By SUMMER SAID
DUBAI -- Saudi Aramco has restarted its Red Sea Yanbu refinery, which it owns with ExxonMobil, after nearly two months of maintenance.
With the restart, the refinery is bringing a new clean fuels project online. The plant will reach its full capacity this week, two people familiar with the matter said.
The refinery, which is operated by SAMREF, has a capacity of about 400,000 bpd of Saudi Arabian crude oil, half of which is consumed domestically, but will only reach that level in a few days, the people told Dow Jones Newswires.
During maintenance, which started in March, SAMREF boosted the reliability of the fluid catalytic cracker, which helps turn crude oil into gasoline, and upgraded the refinery to produce cleaner fuels. The clean fuels project is expected to reduce sulfur levels by more than 98% in gasoline in 2013 and in diesel by 2016.
SAMREF is the supplier of gasoline in the western region of the kingdom, according to the Saudi Aramco website.
Saudi Arabia is expanding its refining capacity to produce more gasoline and diesel to meet rising domestic demand.
Saudi Aramco owns and operates four refineries serving the local market, with a combined refining capacity of 1 million bpd. The firm also has a 50% interest in SAMREF and in SATORP, a joint venture with Total, which will also produce cleaner fuels.
Dow Jones Newswires