Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) plans to produce cleaner diesel to meet tightening environmental standards at home and abroad.
Its largest refinery at Ruwais, the oil processing hub in Al Gharbia, is due to stop making diesel with 500 parts per million of sulphur in favour of diesel with a fiftieth of that amount, reported Bloomberg News. That output will help curb emissions at home and also make exports to markets such as Europe more competitive.
By August, when the switchover is scheduled to have been completed, Adnoc is due to finish doubling the size of the refinery to process 817,000 barrels per day. The $10 billion expansion will allow the UAE to become self-sufficient in petrol, according to Adnoc.
Adnoc awarded an initial contract for the fuel switchover in 2008 to Illinois-based UOP. The American company’s equipment enables the refinery to remove more sulphur, which contributes to smog and acid rain and has been linked to causing or exacerbating health problems such as asthma.
Sulphur removal has become a big-ticket operation in the emirate in recent years as it turns to sour, or high-sulphur, fields because of a pressing need for gas to meet domestic power demand. The $10bn Shah sour gasfield is due to come onstream by the end of the year, according to the joint venture developing it, and last year Royal Dutch Shell won the rights to develop Bab.
The developments are challenging from a technical perspective – sulphur is highly corrosive – as well as from a safety point of view. At such fields engineers are required to wear emergency breathing devices in case of a potentially deadly sulphur dioxide leak.