Luberef to Add Group II


Luberef plans to double its API Group I bright stock capacity and add about 700,000 metric tons per year Group II capacity at its Yanbual Bahr, Saudi Arabia, refinery by 2015 through an estimated $1 billion expansion.

Headquartered in Jeddah, Saudi Aramco Lubricating Oil Refining Co., also known as Luberef, owns two base oil plants in Saudi Arabia, both of which make Group I stocks. The Jeddah plant has capacity of 260,000 t/y (5,100 barrels per day). The Yanbual Bahr facility now has capacity to make 280,000 t/y (5,500 b/d).

Its Group II, with flexibility for Group III if the market requires it, Sulaiman Bilaus, Luberefs vice president of manufacturing, told Lube Report about the expansion. We will double our current capacity of Group I bright stock.

The project took a key step recently with the awarding of an engineer design services contract to Jacobs Engineering Group of Pasadena, Calif., for an undisclosed amount.

Bilaus confirmed an initial feasibility study estimated the expansion cost at $1 billion. He explained that Jacobs engineering design work, which is scheduled to be finished by December 2011, will bring a more precise estimate. Luberef would then bid the job and determine the real cost of the project at that point, he added.

The expansion will include a new lube oil unit for hydrocracking and dewaxing/hydrofinishing, a new sulphur complex and an expansion of the refinerys propane deasphalting unit.

The new lube hydrocrackers and dewaxers will be for the Group II. Currently our [vacuum gas oil] from the vacuum distillation unit is going to sulphur extraction to make Group I 150 and 500, and the propane deasphalting unit makes the deasphalted oil to go for sulphur extraction and dewaxing to make the bright stock, he explained. When the expansion is complete, all the VGO which currently is for making 150 and 500 Group I will be directed as a feed for the lube hydrocrackers to make Group II. Only the heavier part will continue to [be used to] make the bright stock. So there will be no more Group I out of Yanbu except for the bright stock.

The expansion also aims to produce higher-value byproducts such as naphtha, diesel and kerosene, and satisfy Saudi Arabias requirements for drilling fluid, which is currently imported.

Luberef is a 70-30 joint venture between Saudi Aramco, the worlds largest oil producer, which is owned by the Saudi government, and Jadwa Investment, of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Mobil had a 30 percent stake in Luberef when it was formed in 1976, but ExxonMobil sold those shares to Jadwa in 2007.

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