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NOC, Star group to upgrade Ras Lanuf refinery

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, July 14 -- Libya's National Oil Corp. (NOC) signed a 50:50 joint venture agreement with the Star Consortium of TransAsia Gas International and Star Petro Energy covering improvement of the existing 220,000-b/d Ras Lanuf export refinery.

The refinery upgrade will take place in two stages, the first aimed at refurbishing the existing plant to increase capacity and improve the ability to market the products.

In stage two, the companies will expand the refinery and add the latest technology for converting fuel oil into high-value products, improve efficiency, and bring overall quality in line with international standards.

Work on the upgrade, valued at $2-3 billion, will begin immediately and will take up to 5 years to complete.

The Ras Lanuf facility includes a refining plant that produces naphtha, kerosene, and light and heavy gas oil and other units that produce ethylene and polyethylene.

Ras Lanuf and its surrounding region have seen increased industry activity in recent months, including refining ventures and new crude oil discoveries.

In May, German utility group RWE made an oil discovery in the Libyan Sirte basin, the third since April 2007, NOC said.

"This discovery was made at the exploration well B1-NC 195 at Area 195 in Sirte basin about 800 km east of Tripoli and 100 km south of Ras Lanuf," NOC said.

The company said tests showed that oil flowed at 204 b/d through a 52/64 choke on its Dahra formation and 840 b/d at a choke point of 32/64 on its Beda formation.

RWE's first oil find in Sirte basin was announced by NOC in April 2007, while its second discovery in the area came in September 2007.

Meanwhile, in March, Winfield Resources Ltd. said it received conditional approval from NOC for a crude oil supply arrangement with respect to its application to build, own, and operate a 300,000 b/d oil refinery at Ras Lanuf. Winfield said it will purchase 150,000 b/d of crude oil from NOC, specifically its Amna and Sirtica blends.

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