22 January 2023 - 12:04
  • News ID: 467652
Mideast Oldest Refinery to Rejuvenate

TEHRAN (Shana) -- With the commissioning of the Abadan oil refinery development plan, for the first time in the Middle East, the largest crude oil vacuum and atmospheric distillationun its, hydrocracker and the tallest integrated crude oil furnace will be launched in this facility. This megaproject has been implemented in partnership with the Chinese. It is expected to be put into operation by March 2023.

Abadan refinery, which is the oldest and the first refinery in the Middle East, currently processes about 400,000 b/d of crude oil. Due to the high age of this refinery, which was established in 1912, technical inspections are continuously carried out in this refinery and the decrepit installations are fixed or replaced. At the time of economic feasibility studies, the useful life of a refinery is considered to be between 25 and 30 years, but the actual life of refineries in Iran and in other countries is much longer due to overhaul and implementation of numerous improvement and renovation projects. Since the establishment of the Abadan refinery, periodic overhaul plans and operational inspections have been carried out.


Prior to the imposed war, the Abadan refinery had four distillation units each with a capacity of approximately 100,000 b/d, one distillation unit with a capacity of 130,000 b/d, a large number of production and refining units for various products, as well as 850 oil storage tanks, some of which were destroyed during the war. After the end of the war in 1998, phase one of the refinery with a capacity of 130,000 b/d was rebuilt and in early 1989, the 85th distillation unit was opened and put into production.

Following the launch of the first phase, other refinery installations including distillation units 70, 80, 75, vacuum distillation units 60 and 55, catalytic conversion, gas separation, FCCU, solvent preparation and oil making plant with the round-the-clock efforts of the refinery staff and the use of the staff of other refineries became operational without foreigners’ assistance, so that now with a capacity of 400,000 b/d, products include LPG, gasoline, kerosene, gas oil, jet fuel, fuel oil, various types of base oil, various grades of bitumen, petroleum solvents, sulfur, naphtha (feedstock for Bandar Imam Petrochemical Plant’s aromatic unit) and gas (feedstock for Abadan Petrochemical Plant).

3-Phase Development

The development plan of the Abadan refinery consists of three phases, of which phase one and phase three have been put into operation. The second phase of this project includes stabilizing the output capacity of the Abadan refinery, which also includes two units. In the first phase of the development plan, the capacity of Distillation Unit 85 increased from 130,000 to 180,000 b/d, and Vacuum Distillation Unit 200 with a capacity of 70,000 b/d and Viscosity Reduction Unit with a capacity of 25,000 b/d came online in 2005 in order to reduce share of fuel oil and supply feedstock to FCCU.

In the second phase, the plan to stabilize the current capacity and improve the quality of the products of the refinery was considered. In this project, atmospheric and vacuum distillation units and gasoline, kerosene, gas oil, sulfur production, construction of the second FCCU plant, gasoline output hike and other auxiliary units will be built.

Ahmad Farzaneh, the Abadan refinery development manager, said: “The plan to develop and stabilize the capacity of the Abadan refinery (Phase 2) is defined in the form of two parts, the first part of which has entered into operational stages since 2017 with the conclusion of a contract with the participation of a consortium consisting of “Oil Design and Construction Company”(ODCC) and a Chinese company.

The first part of phase 2 of this plan has 6 units under license and other units include atmospheric and vacuum distillation units, LPG 2&1 and utility units. The purpose of implementing this project is to optimize and make the Abadan refinery profitable, to produce  high quality products in compliance with the Euro-5 standard, to reduce the environmental pollutants of products, to increase the production of kerosene and premium gasoline by improving the production technology, to reduce the production of fuel oil and stabilize the capacity of the refinery via phasing out old units and constructing and commissioning new phase 1 and 2 distillation units, whose capacity is 210,000 b/d and 150,000 b/d, respectively, the capacity of this refinery would be stabilized at 360,000 b/d.

Farzaneh said construction of the largest distillation units, hydrocracker, the tallest integrated crude oil furnace and the highest refinery burner in the country and the Middle East are among the features of this project.

“LPG would account for 1.5% of the production of new refinery units. The share of kerosene and jet fuel is 22%. The share of gasoline from the new phase production is 21% and the share of diesel is 24%. Heavy cuts, such as fuel oil, account for a total of 32% of the 210,000-barrel unit's products. This is while in the old unit, fuel oil accounted for 40% of the products of the refinery,” he said.

“Stabilizing the refining capacity of Abadan Refinery, producing products based on Euro 5 standard, reducing environmental pollutants, increasing the production percentage of kerosene and premium gasoline by improving the production technology, reducing fuel oil production are among the goals of this project,” he said.

According to him, by building new units and shutting down old units, the processing capacity of this refinery will be increased by a total of 210,000 b/d.

Farzaneh stated: “The effort to implement the country's largest atmospheric and vacuum distillation units in Abadan, with a capacity of 210,000 and 100,000 b/d, respectively, required precise planning and a lot of follow-up, which put us in pre-commissioning conditions.”

“The monthly progress of about three percent of this project was realized in the conditions that the employees were working in the most difficult working conditions due to the spread of COVID-19, unprecedented heat this summer and air pollution due to the increase in dust in the south and west of the country, so that dozens of people die of heatstroke every day,” he said.

“In the second part of the mentioned plan, the construction of hydrogen refining units for kerosene, gas oil, naphtha, catalytic reforming and isomerization, along with utility units and ancillary facilities, with an estimated credit of $1.7 billion is predicted,” he added.

Farzaneh said Phase 1 and 2 would make the refinery younger to enhance its output. He said the refinery’s output hike would pave the ground for exporting more refined petroleum products.

Gasoline Production

The third phase of Abadan refinery with 13 small units to produce quality gasoline was put into operation 10 years ago, the goal of this project was to produce more gasoline and reduce fuel oil.

It is necessary to call that in the development plans of this refinery, paying attention to environmental issues is of particular importance. Different types of filters and scrubbers will be used to prevent air pollution, industrial wastewater treatment and closed circuit water cooling systems, considering that these units have new technology, the amount of energy waste will be minimized with the construction and operation of the industrial wastewater treatment unit. Also, some related problems in this field will be completely resolved.

It is noteworthy that Abadan oil refinery is one of the largest refineries in Iran, which produces 11 types of petroleum products and supplies 25% of Iran's fuel needs. Construction of this refinery was completed in 1912, and until the start of the imposed war in 1980, it was the largest refinery in the world with the capacity to refine 628,000 b/d.

Courtesy of Iran Petroleum

News ID 467652


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