Skid-mounted units doubling capacity of Kurdish refinery

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Feb. 24 –
Ventech Engineers Inc. has completed the delivery to northern Iraq of a 20,000 b/d, skid-mounted refinery that it fabricated at its Pasadena, Tex., plant and shipped in modules.

The equipment doubles capacity of and upgrades the KAR Oil Refining Ltd. refinery at Erbil, in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. The original refinery started up in July 2009, processing 36° gravity crude oil from Khurmala Dome oil field about 40 km away and yielding kerosine, diesel, and naphtha (OGJ, July 27, 2009, Newsletter).

For the expansion, Ventech engineered, designed, and fabricated a 20,000 b/d distillation unit, 9,000 b/d naphtha hydrotreater, 6,000 b/d semiregenerative catalytic reformer, 2,500 b/d isomerization unit, 4,000 b/d diesel demercaptanization unit, 2,500 b/d kerosine demercaptanization unit, gas plant, and supporting utilities.

Ventech assembled the units in 26 process modules, which it shipped to Erbil between August and January. The units landed at the Port of Mersin, Turkey, for overland transport to northern Iraq.

“This is an all-new refinery that had a significantly shortened schedule due to the modularization of the plant,” Kevin Stanley, Ventech chief executive officer, told OGJ. “We effectively transferred much of the work that traditionally would be done at the site to our covered Pasadena shops.”

Stanley said movement of the modules encountered no problems in the Kurdish region of Iraq, where security is tight.

KAR Oil plans to start the new distillation unit and related facilities during the summer and the naphtha train—including the hydrotreater, reformer, and isomerization unit—in the fall.

It plans another expansion to 75,000 b/d, with a target date of late 2010 or early 2011. Ventech also is assisting with that project.

Original refinery
Construction of the original Erbil refinery, which has two 10,000 b/d distillation units, began in 2005 under a contract between the Iraqi Ministry of Oil and Iraqi Ministry of Industry and Minerals.

By late 2008 it was only 60% complete. The Kurdistan Regional then privatized the refinery and transferred the construction project to KAR Oil, a unit of the Kurdish KAR Group, with a target to commission the facility by last July.

KAR Oil calls the Erbil facility the first major refinery in Kurdistan and the first private-sector refinery in Iraq.

Khurmala Dome, covering an area of 20 km by 8 km, is on the northern end of giant Kirkuk oil field. Its development to supply the Erbil refinery is covered by a November 2008 agreement between the Kurdistan Regional Government and Iraqi oil ministry.

KAR Oil has worked on Khurmala Dome development since 2004. Last year it installed a 200,000-sq-m central process facility and is building production capacity to 150,000 b/d of oil and 100 MMscfd of natural gas.

A 20-in. diameter pipeline carries crude to the Erbil refinery.

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