Gulf refiners expect to complete more than 1mn b/d of new capacity this year, taking total Middle East crude distillation capacity to 9.5mn b/d. The current Gulf refinery construction boom reflects government strategies to squeeze added value from crude resources, which is adding to financial pressures in the global refining industry. OPEC sees a global refining capacity overhang of 4mn b/d by 2018, bringing closures of less competitive plants (MEES, 15 November 2013).

Saudi Arabia leads the expansion. Saudi Aramco and France’s Total started up the first 200,000 b/d crude distillation unit (CDU) of their Satorp refinery in September 2013. Having processed Arabian Light crude during commissioning, start-up of the coker enabled a switch to heavy crude from the Manifa offshore oil field as planned (MEES, 13 September 2013). The second CDU is expected to be operational by mid-year. (CONTINUED - 481 WORDS)