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Petroleum Culture

Mina Abdullah Refinery

Mina Abdullah Refinery

Mina Abdullah Refinery is located about 53 km south of Kuwait City directly overlooks the Arabian Gulf coast. The area on which its facilities were built after the completion of the refinery modernization product is 7,358,000 square meters. The refinery was built in 1958 during the reign of the late Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah and was owned by the independent American Oil Company. It was then a simple refinery that included an oil refining unit with a capacity of about 30 thousand barrels per day. It underwent some expansions between 1962 and 1963 and its refining capacity rose to about 145,000 barrels per day. Mina Abdullah refinery was transferred to state ownership in 1977 when Kuwait achieved full control over its oil wealth in 1975. After a transitional period, the refinery was then affiliated with a national company under incorporation by the name of Wafra Oil Company whose ownership was transferred to the Kuwait National Petroleum Company in 1978. Kuwait National Petroleum Company implemented an ambitious project to modernize the refinery known as Mina Abdullah Refinery Modernization project between 1982 and 1988 which was in light of the strategy that was adopted in the early 1980s.

Mina Abdullah Refinery Modernization Project

The idea of modernizing Mina Abdullah refinery and the project to modernize Mina Al-Ahmadi refinery relates to a strategy vision of the energy situation in the country. Based on the study that was prepared by a specialized committee of the company and the Kuwait petroleum corporation, it was found that Kuwait’s need for liquid fuel to support power plants and other facilities, meet the country’s needs for petroleum products and create stable markets for Kuwaiti petroleum products requires the expansion of Mina Al-Ahmadi and Mina Abdullah refineries. The need is to provide the domestic and global market with low impurity petroleum products to meet the stringent standards applied by many countries with regard to petroleum products, in order to reduce environmental pollution imposed the introduction of new technologies that give Kuwaiti oil products a competitive ability in the global market and make them able to meet these environmental conditions. Thus, the Ministry of Oil entrusted the Kuwait National Petroleum Company in 1980 to conduct a study to modernize Mina Abdullah refinery and choose the suitable system for modernization. The study was completed in 1981 and the committee formed for this purpose issued its report which included an wide vision of the refinery modernization project and in 1982 the project was implement. Mina Abdullah Refinery Modernization Project consists of three parts: the first is to renew the existing units and facilities in the refinery and increase its efficiency, the second is to add new manufacturing units and support facilities with advanced technology that use catalysts to reach the production of light petroleum products of high value and reduce the percentage of fuel oil to the largest possible extent, the third is to develop export facilities including building an artificial island to be used as a port for exporting the refinery products and increasing the efficiency of the northern and southern piers in Mina Al-Ahmadi. The project was completed in late 1988 and was officially inaugurated in February 1989. The refinery’s refining capacity increased to more than 240,000 barrels per day upon its completion. Therefore, efforts continued to increase the refining capacity of the refining until it reached its current level of 270 thousand barrels per day. Also, the advanced technology on which the new refinery was built was the best-known technology up to that time in the oil refining industry so the refining modernization project made it one of the most advances and modern oil refineries in the world among the objectives achieved by Mina Abdullah Refinery. Modernization Projects is its contribution to linking the refinery and its integration with both Shuaiba and Mina Al-Ahmadu refineries so that the three refineries turn into one integrated refining complex which achieves high flexibility in the operations of mixing, manufacturing and shipping products and responding to export requirements to global markets. The three refineries in this context exchange products on an ongoing basis in order to use them in various manufacturing processes to mix products so that products with high value and conforming to the specifications of international markets are obtained. Mina Abdullah Refinery Units: Within the framework of the modernization project, 15 new manufacturing units were built at Mina Abdullah refinery while the already existing units such as the crude oil distillation unit, the hydrogen production unit, the sulfur extraction unit and others were modernized. Among the most important units of Mina Abdullah Refinery was two units for distillation of crude oil, four units for the production of hydrogen, two units for removing sulfur from heavy air residues, a vacuum distillation unit, two deferred carbonization units and hydro cracking unit, in addition to a number of other units and support facilities.

Two distillation units (11&01)

The crude oil refining unit (11) in the new refinery was designed with a design capacity of 190 thousand barrels per day while the old crude oil refining unit (1) remained operating at a capacity of 80 thousand barrels per day and witnessed a modernization that increased its capacity. Thus, the refinery includes two crude oil refining units with a total capacity of 270,000 barrels per day. Crude oil from the Kuwaiti oil fields, like the rest of the crude oil refining units in the refineries, is distilled in the air distillation tower in order to obtain primary petroleum products such as petroleum gases, naphtha, kerosene and diesel. As for the waste from the bottom of the tower, it is sent to other units where it is treated at different temperatures and pressure. These manufacturing units improve the specifications of the primary petroleum products coming from the distillation tower so that their specifications conform to international standard. After significant improvements that were made to its performance to match the specifications of the new distillation unit, the oil crude oil distillation unit has increased its production capacity to 80 thousand barrels per day.

Unit desulfurization from the backward of the tower’s bottom

This unit was designed with a capacity of 65,000 barrels per day from the bottom of the heavy air tower through two lines or two units either to replace the catalyst or for any other reason. A project has recently been implemented to replace the auxiliary factor during operation according to Chevron technology so that the unit will not shut down. Also, this technology contributes to prolonging the life of the catalyst, thus, the unit power increased and nitrogen gas and other metal components are eliminated in the unit in addition to reducing the sulfur content in the heavy residue to about 0.5% by weight and this is done by the presence of hydrogen on the catalyst platform in four reactor and the unit capacity was raised to 28,000 barrels per day.

Deferred Charring Unit

The idea of carbonization is based on the principle of thermal cracking to lift products at the bottom of the tower of low value into distillers of higher value. These two units are designed with a capacity of 32,000 barrels per day (bpd) each. These two units were established for the following purposes:

  • Converting the heavy material at the bottom of the distillation tower of low value into light materials of high value.
  • The production of a large amount of fuel gases.
  • Produce 450 (psi) pressure water steam for use in other units of the refinery.
  • These two units are supplied from the bottom product of the vacuum distillation tower where it pushed the feedstock to the bottom of the distillation tower to gain part of the heat and then pushed into the furnaces to raise its temperature to the appropriate temperature for the thermal cracking and then cola formation. The coal is collected in kiln containers and then sent by conveyor belts to places for loading inside Mina Abdullah refinery and then sent to Shuaiba port in transport vehicles where it stores and exported from there. Petroleum coke is generally used as fuel for factories and in the aluminum industry. The coking unit is the first of its kind in the Gulf region. Also, the refining capacity of each line in the unit is 30,000 barrels per day and it was then raised to 38,000 barrels per day and now it is operating at a capacity of 40,000 barrels per day.

Central control systems

The central control room at Mina Abdullah Refinery is a vivid picture that embodies the advanced technology with a future perspective that was introduced in the refinery modernization. It is worth knowing that the Iraqi invasion completely destroyed the original control room and it was rebuilt again at the beginning of 1994 with more modern technology being introduced into it. The main control system can be defined as the system that measures and controls the manufacturing processes of the refinery and it consists of a basic control system and an electronic computer. As for the sub-control systems linked to the main control system, it includes alarm and safe stopping, the tank level measurement system, the automatic control systems in tank area, the analysis equipment system for manufacturing operations, the artificial island measurement and control system and the measurement of the air condition. The automatic control systems for all units in the refinery were chosen to keep pace with the latest technological systems, taking into account the following fundamentals:

  • Providing safety and guarantee for the work of these devices and providing protection that prevents defects (malfunction) in them and ensuring the continuation of operation without interruption.
  • Providing appropriate training methods and devices in the central control rooms in order to train the refinery operators on how to use modern devices in all different operating situations which helps to raise the operating efficiency of the operating devices.
  • Providing control rooms with an electronic computer to monitor the operations and good performance of all the refinery and give the necessary reports.

Supporting units: Transportation and storage of crude oil and products

The storage capacity of petroleum products in the tanks at Mina Abdullah Refinery reaches about 14 million barrels to supply these storage warehouses of 89 tanks for various petroleum materials in the various manufacturing stages, for example, there are crude oil tanks, tanks for supplying various other units, tanks for products intended for export and tank for waste…etc. These different petroleum products are transported by 64 pumps used for the operations of supplying units from tanks, mixing different products to form products ready for export and sending some products to Shuaiba and Mina Al Ahmadi refineries. In addition to the above, there are five pipelines connecting Mina Abdullah Refinery with Shuaiba Refinery and Mina Al Ahmadi with the aim of exchanging products between them to make optimum use of the refining capacity in the three refineries and improve the specifications of refines products. The artificial island was established to export petroleum products through two berths and the following petroleum products are exported: Naphtha, diesel, gas oil for export, marine diesel, kerosene, jet fuel and heavy fuel oil. Fuels can also be imported from the island’s two docks when necessary. The artificial island is located at a distance of five kilometers from the western shore of the Gulf and is linked to the refinery by six tubes that extend under the sea, also there are four arms in each pier for loading products. As for the heavy products, they are carried by two arms for loading in each pier and the rates of loading light products on the island reach about 80,000 metric tons of the product in about 36 hours. The artificial island includes two piers parallel to the shore line, one designed to receive supertankers up to a load of 276,000 tons and the other for tankers up to a load of 140,000 tons.

Charcoal transportation and storage

The coal produced from the coal units is transported by conveyor belts to the boundaries of the Mina Abdullah refinery, then the coal is loaded in wagons that transport the coal to storage warehouses in the Shuaiba area with a capacity of 70,000 tons, and then the coal is transported to the Shuaiba port by the conveyor belt also to be exported abroad. In order to avoid the possibility of air pollution with dust produced during the process of transporting and storing coal, precautions have been taken to overcome this potential pollution by washing the charcoal several times before storing it for a sufficient period after transporting to Al-Shuaiba warehouses. In addition to the existence of coal stores in Al-Shuaiba port, under pressure to prevent coal dust from escaping outside the warehouses. Kuwait had a refinery called the Shuaiba Refinery, which was officially established in April 1968 with a refining capacity of 95,000 barrels per day. In 1975, the Kuwait National Petroleum Company implemented a project to expand the refinery, with which it increased its refining capacity to 200,000 barrels per day, by 21% from the total refining capacity of the company. Studies have proven the difficulty of developing the Shuaiba Refinery and the inability to modernize it for the following reasons:

  • technologies that the refinery was designed on being old when compared to modern technologies which affected its environmental and economic performance.
  • The limited space available (x) inside the refinery, which reduced the chances of modernizing the refinery and improving its environmental and financial performance.
  • Aging of units and facilities, which results in frequent equipment failure in addition to long periods of shutdown of units.
  • The huge amount of financial spending that must be pumped in order for the refinery to continue operating while maintaining basic levels of safety, industrial security and environmental protection.
  • On Thursday morning, March 30, 2017, the valve for pumping crude oil coming from the Kuwait Oil Company was closed, indicating that the refinery operations would be permanently stopped.

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