South Africa, Ireland slate refinery upgrades

Aug. 30, 1999
State refining companies in South Africa and Ireland have slated refinery upgrades.

State refining companies in South Africa and Ireland have slated refinery upgrades.

South Africa's National Petroleum Refiners (Pty.) Ltd. (Natref) plans to expand the capacity of its Sasolburg refinery to 105,000 b/d from 86,000 b/d, at an anticipated cost of 750 million rand ($125 million).

Meanwhile, Ireland's Irish Refining Co. let a $94 million contract to Foster Wheeler Corp., Clinton, N.J., for engineering, procurement, and construction management of upgrades to meet European Union specification changes.

South Africa

Natref's upgrade is intended to allow the company to convert more than 90% of its crude oil into gasoline, diesel fuel, and jet fuel. Currently, the plant converts 65-70% of input to these high-value products.

Natref shareholders are Sasol Ltd. and Total South Africa (Pty.) Ltd., which own 63.64% and 36.36%, respectively. Sasol said the plant has been established as a pacesetter refinery for the region.

A Sasol official told OGJ that initial basic engineering for the upgrade is being undertaken by a Sasol subsidiary, but the allocation of engineering and construction contracts would follow shortly, once the government has approved the project's environmental impact assessment.

Natref envisages commissioning of the expanded plant in first half 2002. The company reckons that plant expansion would enable new capacity to be added at one quarter the cost of building a new plant.


Irish Refining's plant at Whitegate, County Cork, has crude distillation capacity of 66,500 b/d, which equates to about 40% of the country's petroleum products requirement. The remainder is imported from the U.K.

The upgrade is slated for completion by early 2000 and will include the construction of a new gasoline hydrotreater and isomerization unit, along with modifications to the existing plant.

New EU regulations due in place in 2000 require refiners to reduce polluting emissions from both gasoline and diesel fuel.

Further-and much more stringent-limits are anticipated in 2005 (OGJ, July 6, 1998, Newsletter).