'Microrefineries' boost Iraq's domestic output

Iraq's 20,000 b/d al-Diwaniya refinery—one of several so-called microrefining projects now under way—will be inaugurated within the next couple of weeks, according to an official statement.

Eric Watkins
Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 29 -- Iraq's 20,000 b/d al-Diwaniya refinery—one of several so-called microrefining projects now under way—will be inaugurated within the next couple of weeks, according to an official statement.

"The project comprises two units: the first one is 100% complete, while work on the second is 50% complete," Iraq's national information center said, adding that each unit has a capacity of 10,000 b/d.

Analyst Global Insight said Iraq has launched several microrefining projects since 2006 due to the amount of time it would take before the country's larger refineries could be repaired and readied for nationwide production and distribution.

Currently, Iraq's three main refineries—Dora, Shuaiba, and Beiji—are running at half or less of the 597,500 b/d of installed capacity they had before the US-led invasion in March 2003.

As a result, according to Global Insight, "the microrefineries provide their respective areas with significant respite from shortages and an opportunity to restart a local economic recovery."

Underlining that view, the Iraqi government in August approved an $81 million contract to upgrade the Samawah refinery in southern Iraq. According to unconfirmed reports, the Samawah contract was awarded to Colorado Industrial Construction Services Co.

The Samawah refinery, which lies 370 km southeast of Baghdad, was originally built in 1977 with a 30,000 b/d capacity. During the 1991 Gulf War, the plant suffered 90% damage.

The facility was used for storage until 2001, when the oil ministry partially rehabilitated it. But the refinery was looted following the 2003 invasion and was left idle until 2005, when one 10,000 b/d unit was rehabilitated.

A second 10,000 b/d unit was repaired and began production in 2006. At some point, according to local sources, a third unit is to be removed from the Dora refinery in Baghdad and added to the Samawah facility.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

More in Refining & Processing