Around the world, legislation mandating decreased emissions
and lower levels of airborne pollutants is coming into effect.
In response, refiners are implementing operational and
processing changes to reduce sulfur levels in transportation
To comply with mandatory sulfur specifications for gasoline
and diesel between 2013 and 2016, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
plans to spend billions of dollars to construct multiple
clean-fuel projects. Saudi Arabia has adopted
European standards for fuel quality, as Europe has been the
frontrunner on regulations for low-sulfur, clean
Saudi Arabia is seeking to reduce sulfur content in diesel
and gasoline to 10 parts per million (ppm) and to lower benzene
content in gasoline to 1%. With these new fuel specifications,
Saudi Arabian refining operations will comply with
international standards. This will represent a dramatic
reduction in sulfur levels from June 2012, when Saudi
Arabias maximum sulfur level for diesel was greater than
500 ppm (Fig. 1). The planned upgrades and
revamps are necessary to meet future market demand for
higher-value, lower-sulfur transportation fuels.
Fig. 1. Global status of
maximum allowable sulfur in diesel fuel,
parts per million (June 2012).
Along with its joint ventures (JVs), Saudi Arabian national
oil company Saudi Aramco will upgrade all of the Kingdoms
domestic refineries to produce lower-sulfur transportation
fuels. Several projectsthe Ras Tanura Refinery Clean
Fuels and Aromatics project, the Riyadh Refinery Clean
Transportation Fuel project, the Saudi Aramco Mobil Refinery
Co. (SAMREF) Clean Fuels project and the PetroRabigh Clean
Fuels projectare designed to accomplish the
kingdoms goal of producing near-zero-sulfur fuels by
Ras Tanura Refinery Clean Fuel and Aromatics project
The Ras Tanura refinery is Saudi Aramcos most complex
refinery. Located on the Arabian Gulf, Ras Tanura has a crude
distillation capacity of 550
thousand barrels per day (Mbpd), a 305-Mbpd natural
gas liquids (NGLs) processing facility, a 960-Mbpd crude
oil stabilization facility and 75 crude oil storage tanks with
a combined capacity of 5.8 million barrels (MMbbl). Most of Ras
Tanuras production is slated for domestic use.
The $3 billion (B) project is scheduled for completion in
2016. The projects main goals are to produce cleaner
fuels and to increase production of paraxylene, benzene and
toluene. Annual production capacity could reach 1 million tons
per year (MMtpy) of aromatics.
In May 2011, Jacobs Engineerings Middle Eastern unit,
Jacobs, Zumal and Turbag Consulting Engineers (Jacobs ZATE) was
awarded the front-end engineering and design (FEED) contract
under Saudi Aramcos General Engineering and Project
Management Services (GES+) contract. Jacobs acquired ZATE in
2008 to fulfill Saudi Aramcos GES+ initiative. The GES+
initiative is designed to increase local content in Saudi
Arabia for engineering services such as FEED, feasibility
studies, procurement and project management services.
Jacobs will be responsible for FEED services for both inside
and outside battery limits. These services include
modifications to the refinery to comply with future
environmental regulations and to increase diversity of petrochemical products. FEED should
be completed in early 2013, with calls to tender for multiple
engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts
scheduled for the second quarter of 2013.
Riyadh Refinery Clean Transportation Fuel
Located in the central region of Saudi Arabia, the 124-Mbpd
Riyadh refinery is supplied with crude oil from the East-West
pipeline. In April 2011, Foster Wheeler and A. Al-Saihati, A.
Fattani & O. Al-Othman Consulting Engineering Co. (SOFCON)
were awarded the FEED and project management consultancy (PMC)
services contracts for this project.
The $1 B upgrade project is designed to reduce sulfur
content in diesel from 330 ppm to 10 ppm and to also decrease
benzene levels in gasoline. It is the first brownfield project
of this magnitude to be awarded by Saudi Aramco. The project
- Four new processing unitsisomerization, naphtha
splitting, sulfur guard-bed and diesel hydrotreating
- Two debottlenecking operations on the hydrocracker and
gas concentration units
- Replacement of the crude and vacuum distillation tower internals.
Submission of bids for the EPC contract ended in October
2012. Saudi Aramco expects to award the EPC contract in early
2013 to Daelim Industrial, JGC Corp., Saipem or Samsung
SAMREF is an equally owned JV between Saudi Aramco and
ExxonMobils wholly owned subsidiary, Mobil Yanbu Refining Co. Located on the coast of
the Red Sea, SAMREFs Yanbu refinery is the worlds
largest single-train refinery. This site processes 400 Mbpd of
crude oil into fuels, of which half is consumed
SAMREFs Yanbu refinery will undergo significant
modifications to produce cleaner fuels by reducing sulfur
levels by more than 98% in gasoline by 2013, and in diesel by
2016. The execution will be split into two phases. Phase 1 will
begin during a 45-day maintenance shutdown in March 2013.
A grassroots desulfurization train to treat 60 Mbpd of fluid
catalytic cracking (FCC) gasoline will be installed. A revamp
of the 98-Mbpd distillate hydrotreater and refinery utilities infrastructure
will also begin. WorleyParsons is responsible for FEED and EPC
of the facilities.
Phase 2 is scheduled to start up by the end of 2015. The
scope includes a new high-pressure distillate hydrotreater, a
hydrogen manufacturing unit, a sulfur recovery unit, and
offsites and utilities infrastructure. The $2.5 B project is
scheduled for completion in 2016.
PetroRabigh Clean Fuels project
Rabigh Refining and Petrochemical Co., or PetroRabigh,
is an equally owned JV between Saudi Aramco and Sumitomo
Chemical Co. of Japan. Located on Saudi Arabias west
coast, the PetroRabigh complex is one of the largest integrated
refining and petrochemical complexes in the world. With a
capacity of 400 Mbpd, it is also designed to produce a total of
2.4 MMt of petrochemical solids and liquids.
To meet international environmental standards, the $1 B
clean-fuels project is designed to reduce sulfur content in
gasoline from 300 ppm to 10 ppm. At present, the FEED contract
is in the bidding phase, with seven companies vying for the
contract. The scope of the FEED contract includes designing the
facilities, setting specifications
for equipment required, evaluating potential licensors,
adjusting capital expenditures and operating costs, and
estimating labor and time frames for the EPC phase.
Saudi Arabia is not the only Middle Eastern country with
clean-fuels projects. Kuwaits national oil company,
Kuwait National Petroleum Co. (KNPC), is investing $31 B in a
project to modernize the countrys Mina Abdullah and Mina
Al-Ahmadi refineries, as well as to increase total crude oil
throughput to 800 Mbpd.
KNPC will construct and revamp several units in both
refineries to process environmentally friendly fuels with
significantly lower sulfur content. Major units to be added
include atmospheric residue desulfurization units,
isomerization units, sulfur recovery units, amine regeneration
units, vacuum rerun units, delayed coker units and liquefied
petroleum gas (LPG) treating units.
In mid-December 2012, Foster Wheeler was awarded a PMC
services contract valued at $500 MM. Foster Wheeler will be
responsible for all PMC services during the tendering phase of
the main EPC contracts, along with management of the EPC
contractors through completion of performance testing. EPC
contracts are expected to be awarded in the second quarter of
2013. Overall completion of the project is set for 2018.
On the other side of the world, Lake Charles Clean Energy
(LCCE), a subsidiary of Leucadia Energy, is investing $2.5 B in
a state-of-the-art plant that will use advanced gasification technology to cleanly manufacture
industrial products from petroleum coke. The LCCE project,
located at the Port of Lake Charles, Louisiana, US, will
fuels for the states domestic petrochemical industry and use
carbon-capture technologies to enhance domestic oil production.
Construction is scheduled to begin
Turner Industries Group is the constructor for the project,
and KBR will provide design, engineering and procurement
services. LCCE will acquire petcoke from Koch Carbon amounting
to 7,000 metric tons of petcoke per day from US Gulf Coast
refiners. LCCE will extract the beneficial energy from petcoke
while avoiding harmful emissions and producing no waste.
In addition to limiting emissions, this plant is designed to
capture, compress and sell 90% of its CO2
production. The 4.5 MMtpy of captured CO2 will be
sold for use in enhanced oil recovery operations along the US
Gulf Coast. LCCE is expected to be one of the worlds
lowest-cost producers of methanol and hydrogen, as well as a
low-cost producer of other products used in the chemical and refining industries. The LCCE project will be the first of its
kind in the US.
Whether it is lowering sulfur content in transportation
fuels or using gasification to manufacture cleaner fuels,
refiners around the world are utilizing new technologies to
create cleaner petroleum products for consumers.
Lee Nichols is director of Gulf
Publishing Companys Data Division. He has five
years of experience in the downstream industry and is
responsible for market research and trends analysis
for the global downstream construction sector. At
present, he manages all data content and sales for
Hydrocarbon Processing Construction Boxscore
Database, as well as all corporate and global site
licenses to World Oil and Hydrocarbon