Oman shuts Sohar refinery after gasoline unit problem
Muscat, March 22, 2009
Oman has shut its 116,000 barrel per day (bpd) Sohar refinery for unplanned maintenance because of a technical fault at its gasoline-making unit, trade sources said on Sunday.
The 75,200 bpd gasoline-making residual fluid catalytic cracker (RFCC) went down sometime last week, which led to the shutdown of the refinery, traders said.
"We don't really know what the problem was," a Middle East-based trader said.
"It should be down for at least another two weeks, maybe longer, although in the best case it comes back online at the end of the month."
Refinery officials were not immediately available for comment.
Traders said they expected to see Oman issue an import tender if the refinery does not come back online by the end of the week. Oman typically imports 95-octane gasoline and even 92-octane gasoline.
Asia's gasoline reforming margin, or the premium of a barrel of 92-octane grade fetches over Asian naphtha prices, rose for four-straight sessions last week, closing at $9.76 on Sunday -- the highest since February 24.
Traders were also expecting to see Oman issue a sell tender for at least 200,000 tonnes of straight-run fuel oil, which is the primary feedstock for the Sohar refinery's gasoline cracking unit.
"That fuel oil will likely get picked up for blending and will move either to Fujairah or Singapore, but more likely to go to Fujairah," a fuel oil trader said. - Reuters