February 13, 2018
Volume 1 Issue 7
Group II Output Begins in Yanbu
Luberef announced last week that it has completed a long-awaited upgrade and expansion of its base oil plant in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, and that API Group II stocks are now being shipped from the facility.
The plant is the first in the Middle East to make large amounts of Group II. The announcement did not list numbers, but Luberef has previously released information indicating the plant would have capacity to make 708,000 metric tons per year of Group II.
The company said in an e-mailed statement that its first export cargo has finished loading and is on its way to customers in India.
The expansion at Yanbu is also designed to increase the plantís capacity to make bright stock. Luberef said that part of the project is scheduled to be completed during the second quarter. Before the project, Yanbu had capacity to make 282,000 t/y of Group I. When the work is finished, the plantís Group I capacity will be 175,000 t/y.
Luberef initially announced the expansion in 2012 and originally aimed to complete it by 2015. The project suffered several delays, though. In the second half of last year officials said the expansion would be completed in December.
The Group II oils produced at Yanbu are being marketed under the aramcoPrima brand. Luberef, which is a 70-30 joint venture between Saudi Aramco and Saudi investment firm Jadwa Investment Co., has long marketed the base oils it produces at Yanbu and at its other base oil plant in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, but Aramco intends to market at least some of those oils itself.
Last year the oil giant announced the formation of a base oil marketing business that would offer Group I, II and III base stocks produced by its base oil holdings around the world. Aramco became sole owner last year of Motiva, which operates a Group II/III plant in Port Arthur, Texas, United States, and owns 63 percent of S-Oil, which owns a Group II/III plant in Onsan, South Korea.
Until 2011, base stocks produced in the Middle East were almost entirely Group I. In the past seven years, several new plants opened that produce more highly refined oils, but most of that output is Group III. Adnocís plant in Ruwais, United Arab Emirates, has capacity to make 100,000 t/y of Group II along with 400,000 t/y of Group III. The Pearl gas-to-liquids plant in Ras Laffan, Qatar, a JV between Shell and Qatar Petroleum, has capacity to make 300,000 t/y of Group II, but that output is too light to be used in lubricants and goes mostly to process oils such as agricultural spray oils.