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Kuwait Working to Restart Mega Refinery After Sudden Halt

Kuwait Integrated Petroleum Industries Company (KIPIC), the operator of the large Al-Zour Refinery, is working to gradually restore operations at the facility after the abrupt shutdown on Sunday, Reuters quoted the company as saying on Wednesday.   

The Al-Zour Refinery, one of the largest crude processing facilities in the Middle East, experienced a brief halt on Sunday following a “sudden interruption” in fuel and gas supply, KIPIC said this weekend.

The refinery was “exposed to a sudden interruption of fuel gas supplies due to a malfunction in one of the main valves of Kuwait Oil Co, KIPIC said Sunday in a statement carried by Bloomberg.

The restart has already begun, and it is expected that the refinery with a capacity of 615,000 barrels per day (bpd) would take up to 10 days to return to normal operations, KIPIC said.

The refinery, which KIPIC says is the world’s largest grass-root refinery with 615,000 bpd capacity, began ramping up operations this year and was expected to reach full capacity in October. The refinery has high flexibility as it is designed to process various types of Kuwait crude including the Kuwait Heavy Crude (KHC) oil, which will be produced according to the upstream strategy of the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC), the state oil firm of one of the largest crude oil producers in the Middle East.

After the glitch this weekend, technical teams at the Al-Zour Refinery have started work on a gradual restart of the production units. According to operator KIPIC, the process of restarting the mega refinery would take about 10 days to reach the previous production capacity. 

KIPIC is also taking precautionary measures to prevent further disruptions of supply to power and water plants and disruptions of export operations. 

The ramp-up of the 615,000-bpd refinery was expected earlier this year to additionally tighten the global supply of sour crude, as Kuwait would divert more crude to its new large processing facility.  

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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