Gulf refiners have been raising throughputs with the addition of new capacity and the completion of turnarounds. Middle East throughputs surged by 465,000 b/d in June, according to the IEA’s latest monthly Oil Market Report, as operators in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait completed extensive maintenance. Meanwhile, Iran has prioritized completion of a refinery that had effectively been put on hold, while plans for the first of four new refineries in Iraq are taking shape.

Saudi Arabia not only brought its giant 400,000 b/d Yanbu’ refinery back online in late May (after two months of scheduled maintenance), it this month started up the first of two 200,000 b/d crude distillation units (CDUs) at the Satorp joint venture plant in Jubail, being developed by Saudi Aramco and Total (MEES, 13 September). The IEA says Satorp has been processing around 120,000 b/d of Arab Light crude and will process a further 120,000 b/d when the second CDU starts up later this year. Satorp will begin processing Arab Heavy crude once its coker unit is commissioned. While there have been reports of changed schedules for new 400,000 b/d refineries at Yanbu’ and Jazan, Saudi Aramco is maintaining its 2014 and 2016 start-up targets (see table). (CONTINUED - 594 WORDS)