UAE gets new refinery

March 27, 2000
ENOC Processing Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of Emirates National Oil Co. (ENOC), began processing gas condensate in its new Dubai, UAE, refinery at the end of 1999.
The new UAE refinery, built in Dubai by ENOC Processing Co. Ltd., has a condensate-distillation capacity of 120,000 b/d.
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ENOC Processing Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of Emirates National Oil Co. (ENOC), began processing gas condensate in its new Dubai, UAE, refinery at the end of 1999 (Fig. 1).

The $300 million refinery lies in the Jebel Ali Free Zone and has a condensate-distillation capacity of 120,000 b/d.

This is the fourth refinery in the UAE and the first in Dubai. In capacity, the new plant ranks second to Abu Dhabi National Oil Co.'s Ruwais refinery, which has a capacity of 145,000 b/d and is due for a huge 270,000 b/d expansion in 2000.

Project scope

ENOC awarded Technip Italy a lump sum design and construction contract, worth $183 million. ENOC let the contract in two phases.

Phase 1, known as the base project and valued at $137 million, was awarded in June 1997.

The base project consisted of the design and construction of a 60,000 b/d condensate processing plant based on Merox units, licensed by UOP. The Merox process treats finished products to remove odors caused by mercaptans.

Phase 2, referred to as the capacity-expansion project, is an addendum to Technip's original contract. It was signed in November 1997 and valued at $46 million.

In the second phase, ENOC built two units, both duplicates of units in Phase 1, and added some equipment to the off sites part of the plant.

The capacity-expansion project added another 60,000 b/d condensate-distillation unit and a second 17,000-b/d kerosine treating unit to the refinery. Thus, Phase 2 brought the plant's final capacity to 120,000 b/d.

In Phase 2, off sites additions included new equipment for the oil movements and utility systems and new naphtha tanks.

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Table 1 lists the various process units associated with each project phase.

A waste-water treatment plant handles effluents from the distillation unit, Merox units, and utilities. New hydrocarbon and acid gas flares handle boiler and furnace emissions.

Project schedule

Major contractor Technip had as its scope of work detailed engineering, procurement, construction, precommissioning, and assistance in commissioning and start-up. M.W. Kellogg, now out of the picture, had begun basic engineering in August 1996.

Mechanical completion for Phase 1 occurred in March 1999 and that for Phase 2 occurred in April 1999.

After test runs on the new plant, the refinery was inaugurated in December 1999 and brought on stream for commercial production.

At its labor peak, the project employed 2,000 people for field labor. The refinery now employs about 100 people.


Besides Dubai itself, sources of condensate feed for the refinery come from Abu Dhabi, Iran, Qatar, and Australia, by pipeline and barge.

About 60% of the refinery's 120,000 b/d of products will be sold to the local market. Products include LPG, naphtha, jet fuel, and diesel.

The condensate refinery will produce about as much naphtha as a 200,000 b/d simple refinery. As Dubai has no petrochemical industry, ENOC is searching for outlets for its naphtha production in the international market.

A potential outlet for ENOC's naphtha is a new unleaded gasoline plant being built by Iso Octane Co., Dubai. Iso Octane is building a refinery in the Jebel Ali Free Zone that will convert naphtha to gasoline for export. The company has no obligation, however, to take ENOC's naphtha. The 40,000 b/d gasoline production plant is scheduled to start up this year.

In the UAE as well as in the Middle East, there is a trend towards building refineries with condensate-processing capacity. Condensate production is not included in OPEC quotas, but the region, especially Abu Dhabi, is teeming with condensate production. With natural gas production, condensate production has surged in the past 2 years.

Abu Dhabi National Oil Co.'s Ruwais refinery expansion is adding two 135,000-b/d condensate distillation units. Sharjah Oil Refining Co. Ltd.'s new refinery in the Hamriyah Free Zone, to be completed in 2000, will process both crude and condensate.