Media sources circulated what the Kingdom of Bahrain announced a few days ago about postponing the start of the upgraded and expanded Sitra refinery until 2024, due to the shortage of labor resulting from the delays in the repercussions of the Corona virus pandemic.
It is worth noting that the modernization and expansion operations cost about $7 billion, aiming to enable the country’s only refinery to process new raw materials, including heavy crudes, as it seeks to access export markets.
The Oil and Gas Holding Company anticipates that potential new raw materials from the offshore oil discovery will be of heavier grades, which would help boost the refinery’s feedstock.
The CEO of the state-owned Oil and Gas Holding Company (Mark Thomas) confirms that the expansion will increase the processing capacity in Sitra from 270,000 to about 370,000 barrels per day, and the modernization gives the refinery the flexibility to process different types of raw materials, not only Arab Light Medium and Arab Crude light, but also the processing of heavy crudes.
The refinery currently processes local Bahrain crude, Arab Light crude and Arab Medium crude, which is pumped from Saudi Arabia, that shares the offshore Abu Safah field with Bahrain.
Given the limited domestic consumption in Bahrain, the company is targeting export markets to sell refinery products, especially middle distillates. Naphtha can also be used in petrochemical projects later, allowing the production of grey hydrogen which helps reaching wider export markets.
The refinery modernization will also help the Oil and Gas Holding Company to reduce emissions by producing high-quality products with a lower carbon footprint.