Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, the state-controlled oil and gas major, took the next step in growing its downstream operations by commissioning a new unit to extract maximum value from the heavy oils and slurry, to make products that will be marketed in the UAE and abroad.
Adnoc Refining, a subsidiary of Adnoc, has completed the commissioning of a specialised coker unit that will allow the company to get value from “bottom-of-the-barrel” as it aggressively pursues its downstream strategy, the company on Sunday.
The new unit will enable Adnoc’s refining business to recover highly specialised and valuable grades of carbon black and calcined coke – the compounds used in tyres and rubbers, and the steel and aluminium industries, respectively.
“Not only will it create higher value from what would otherwise be used for low-value fuel oil, but both products are essential to industrial processes within Adnoc subsidiaries and other UAE industries, potentially removing the need to import costly raw materials,” the company said.
Through its Carbon Black & Coker Project, Adnoc Refining can produce 40,600 tonnes of two different grades of carbon black per year, and 430,000 tonnes of anode grade calcined coke, which is low in sulphur and metals. Borouge, a joint venture between Adnoc and Austria’s Borealis, makes extensive use of special carbon black grades across a range of products, including high-pressure water and gas pipes, steel pipe coatings and linings, and standalone piping.
Calcined coke is a key ingredient in anodes used in the electrolysis process that separates pure aluminium from bauxite ore. The UAE is the world’s sixth-largest aluminium producer, accounting for over 50 per cent of the Arabian Gulf’s output, with annual production of 2.6 million tonnes in 2017, the company said.
Increasing the flexibility of Adnoc’s refining assets to extract the most value from every barrel of oil it produces and generate additional feedstocks and additives for the petrochemical industry are the pillar of the company’s downstream expansion strategy. The plan aims to not only solidify Adnoc’s position as a producer, but also transform it into a supplier and trader of refined and petrochemical products as it focuses on growth markets in Asia, including China.
Adnoc’s investment programme will see the company’s refining capacity increase by more than 65 per cent, or 600,000 barrel per day by 2025, through the addition of a third refinery, creating a total capacity of 1.5 million barrels per day. The new refinery will significantly increase the output of Abu Dhabi’s refining operations by adding to the range of crudes that can be processed.
“At the heart of our downstream strategy is an Dh165 billion investment, over the next five years, that will create the world’s largest integrated refining and petrochemicals hub in Ruwais, where Adnoc will convert 20 per cent of its crude to chemicals, tripling petrochemical production capacity to 14.4 million tonnes per year, by 2025,” said Abdulaziz AlHajri, director of Adnoc’s downstream directorate.
“In parallel, Adnoc intends to build an international, integrated downstream presence, including securing additional crude refining capacity in growth markets.”