Ivory Coast lets technology contract for Abidjan refinery

July 26, 2021

State-owned Société Ivoirienne de Raffinage (SIR) has let a contract to Honeywell UOP LLC to license technology that will enable production of low-sulfur fuels at the operator’s 3.8-million tonnes/year (tpy) refinery in Vridi District, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

As part of the contract, UOP will provide licensing of its proprietary UOP Unionfining process technology for the unit that, once in operation, will produce diesel fuel that complies with both Euro 5 and AFRI 6-quality emission standards, the service provider said.

Alongside technology licensing, UOP’s scope of delivery also will include equipment, catalysts, adsorbents, and other services for the project.

In addition to equipping SIR with the ability to meet Africa’s more stringent diesel fuel specifications—including AFRI 6, which targets a 10-ppm sulfur content in diesel fuels across the continent by 2030—UOP said use of Unionfining technology will allow the refinery to raise its overall crude processing capacity.

While UOP disclosed neither a value of the contract nor details regarding capacities of the proposed Unionfining unit or potential crude processing boost, the service provider did confirm the project comes as part of SIR’s investment in its previously announced plan to modernize the Abidjan refinery, as well as its strategy to comply with Côte d’Ivoire’s broader clean air program (OGJ Online, Jan. 14, 2019).

In November 2018, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said that while SIR’s refinery already was producing 10-ppm sulfur content gasoline, sulfur content of diesel fuel produced at the site ranged between 1,900-2,000 ppm. At the time, UNEP estimated a $300-million investment would be required to upgrade the refinery to meet the 10-ppm sulfur content regulation for diesel.

Further details regarding the scope of the overall modernization program at the refinery have yet to be revealed.

Refinery overview

According to SIR’s website, the Abidjan refinery includes two 75,000-b/d atmospheric distillation units, and 18,000-b/d hydrocracker, as well as the following major installations: a vacuum distillation unit; two hydroskimming units; two reforming units; two gasoline hydrotreaters; two kerosene desulfurization units; and a hydrogen unit.

In its latest annual report for yearend 2019, Côte d’Ivoire’s Direction Générale des Hydrocarbures (DGH) confirmed the Abidjan refinery processed just over 3.05 million tpy of crude, up from 2.53 million tpy. Increased processing rates in 2019 resulted from the restart of the refinery’s hydrocracker, which had been shuttered for 2 years following a fire that occurred on Jan. 2, 2017, DGH said.

According to DGH, the refinery processed the following mix of light and heavy crudes during 2019: Bonny Light (Nigeria); Qua Iboe (Nigeria); Erha (Nigeria); Pennington (Nigeria); Marlin (Côte d’Ivoire); Condensate (Côte d’Ivoire); Lion (Côte d’Ivoire); Forcados (Nigeria); Bonga (Nigeria); and Castilla (Colombia).