Curacaoan refinery due Venezuelan natural gas supply
Operator Refineria Isla Curazao BV—a subsidiary of state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA—recently let a contract to Axens SA to perform preliminary front-end engineering design work on a project to supply Venezuelan natural gas to the Curacaoan state-controlled Refineria Di Korsou NV’s 320,000-b/d Isla refinery at Emmastad, Curacao.
Operator Refineria Isla Curazao BV—a subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA)—recently let a contract to Axens SA, Rueil-Malmaison, France, to perform preliminary front-end engineering design work on a project to supply Venezuelan natural gas to the Curacaoan state-controlled Refineria Di Korsou NV’s (RdK) 320,000-b/d Isla refinery at Emmastad, Curacao.
In partnership with Paris-based Doris Engineering, Axens Performance Programs business unit has now completed the pre-FEED study for an offshore gas transportation system to Curacao from Venezuela, Axens said.
Documentation prepared as part of the pre-FEED study, which includes execution plans for necessary permitting and regulatory approvals, will serve as a basis to solicit bids for FEED on the proposed project, the service provider said.
Part of Refineria Isla’s previously announced modernization plans, the project’s overall objective is to deliver positive impacts on both the environment and refinery economics by converting the processing site’s fired equipment to run on gas instead of heavy fuel oil.
Once completed, SOx, NOx, and particle emissions from the refinery will be reduced under the most stringent international standards, contributing to general improvement of Curacao’s air quality, while associated carbon dioxide emission will be reduced by about 20%, Axens said.
Gas will be delivered to Curacao from Venezuela via a new submarine pipeline connected to the Puerto Cumarebo station.
The required gas treatment installations will include a molecular sieve dehydration unit designed by Axens subsidiary Prosernat, as well as hydrocarbon dew pointing and gas compression.
To achieve the water specification, current project plans call for use of Axens’ proprietary high-performance molecular sieves Axsorb 510 and AxSorb 533 for water removal.
Treated gas will be transported through a 90-km, 16-in. subsea pipeline at a maximum water depth of 1,400 m.
Pipeline construction and upgrade of fired equipment inside the refinery are scheduled to be completed by 2021, Axens said.
An estimated cost of the project was not disclosed.
This latest project for gas supply to Emmastad follows the government of Curacao’s late-2017 cancellation of a September 2016 memorandum of understanding with China’s state-owned Guandong Zhenrong Energy Co. Ltd. (GDZR), Guangzhou, under which GDZR was to take over operatorship as well as finance an upgrade of the RdK-owned refinery beginning on Jan. 1, 2020, at which time Rdk’s lease agreement with current operator Refineria Isla Curazao is set to expire (OGJ Online, Nov. 14, 2016; Mar. 19, 2010).
The government cancelled the MOU with GDZR after determining GDZR could not satisfy terms of its preliminary agreement to modernize and operate the refinery as outlined in the MOU documents, according to a Dec. 31, 2017, news release from Eugene Rhuggenaath, Curacao’s prime minister.
The failed MOU with GDZR leaves the Curacao government’s search for a new partner to operate and finance an upgrade of the Emmastad refinery ongoing.
Alongside work to replace the plant’s current use of heavy residual fuel oil to generate power with natural gas or LNG to help reduce environmental impacts and emissions at the manufacturing site as a means of extending its viability and competitiveness for another 20-30 years, GDZR also was to fund and execute a series of other modernization projects at the refinery and associated installations, as well as take responsibility for arranging and securing in advance delivery of crude supplies necessary to operate the manufacturing site.
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