Curacao inks MOU for new operator, revamp of Emmastad refinery

China’s state-owned Guandong Zhenrong Energy Co. Ltd. (GDZR), Guangzhou, has entered a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a division of BP PLC as part of GDZR’s agreement with the government of Curacao to take over operatorship as well as finance an upgrade of state-controlled Refineria Di Korsou NV's (RdK) 320,000-b/d refinery at Emmastad, Curacao.

The Chinese firm signed the MOU with BP’s integrated global oil supply and trading group on Nov. 8, GDZR said.

The company, which did not respond to a request for comments, disclosed no further details of what presumably is an agreement with BP for the supply of crude to the refinery.

The MOU with BP follows GDZR’s earlier MOU signed with Curacao’s government on Sept. 15 under which GDZR has agreed to fund a series of major projects for the modernization of Curacao’s energy infrastructure.

According to documents posted to the government of Curacao’s web site, GDZR is considering the following projects as part of the upgrading program:

• Modernization of the Emmastad refinery, including work to replace the facility’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. Alongside funding and executing modernization projects at the refinery and associated installations, GDZR also is to be responsible for arranging and securing in advance delivery of crude supplies necessary to operate the refinery.

• Upgrading and modernization of RdK subsidiary Curacao Refinery Utilities BV’s (CRU) power plant, which includes enabling gas to become the plant’s fuel for power and steam generation, well as works to tie in the plant as an integrated part of the refinery.

• Expansion and improvement of government-owned Curacao Oil NV’s (Curoil) product-storage infrastructure.

• Modernization works to switch power generation at Integrated Utility Holding NV (Aqualectra)—Curacao’s government-controlled water and power distribution company—to gas.

• Upgrading and expanding crude and product storage capacity at RdK’s Bullenbay oil storage terminal by 5-18 million bbl or more, including construction of an LNG import transshipment terminal at Bullenbay.

• Financing the government of Curacao’s workforce development initiative to train and prepare local personnel for construction jobs supporting the overall upgrading program.

The MOU with GDZR follows RdK’s decision to select a new operator for the Emmastad refinery beginning on Jan. 1, 2020, at which time its lease agreement with current operator Refineria Isla Curazao BV—a subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-owned Petroleo de Venezuela SA (PDVSA)—is set to expire (OGJ Online, Mar. 19, 2010).

Emmastad refinery

According to RdK’s web site, alongside its nameplate crude processing capacity, the Emmastad refinery is equipped with the following processing capabilities:

• Vacuum distillation: 195,000 b/d.

• Catalytic cracking: 53,000 b/d.

• Thermal cracking (visbreaking): 81,000 b/d.

• Mild hydrocracking (cat feed): 27,200 b/d.

• Distillate hydrotreating: 31,000 b/d.

• Naphtha hydrotreating: 49,600 b/d.

• Reformer (semi-regenerative): 21,900 b/d.

• Alkylation (C4 olefins): 11,000 b/d.

• Polymerization (C3 olefins): 3,700 b/d.

• Lube oil manufacturing: 12,000 b/d.

• Hydrofinishing: 4,500 b/d.

• Solvent dewaxing: 7,500 b/d.

Contact Robert Brelsford at

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