LONDON, July 16 (Reuters) - Oil companies are investing tens of billions of dollars worldwide to add extra equipment to refineries that will turn heavy oil into higher-value, lighter oil products such as gasoline, diesel and feedstock for petrochemicals.
These investments can be large, typically $1.5 billion to $3 billion, and aim to meet the world's increasing demand for liquid fuels, particularly for transport, and for chemicals.
Here is a list of more than a dozen of the biggest of these refinery upgrade projects, all of which have taken place over the past six years and together cost almost $60 billion.
* Saudi Aramco and Total SA agreed in 2006 a deal to develop a 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) refinery in Jubail, Saudi Arabia, to process heavy oil into refined products for export to Asia. Company executives have estimated the cost of the refinery, which is due to start operation in December 2013, at $14 billion.
* Saudi Aramco and China's Sinopec are building a 400,000 bpd refinery on the Red Sea t o convert heavy oil into lighter products. This project, which is due to be completed in autumn 2014, has an estimated value of just under $10 billion, according to the chief executive of the venture, Fahad al-Helal.
* Essar Oil this year completed a $2.2 billion programme to expand and optimise its refinery at Vadinar in Gujarat, a l lowing the share of heavy and ultra-heavy crude oil it processes to rise to 80 percent, according to a release from the company.
* In 2008, Reliance Industries Ltd completed a $6 billion, 580,000 bpd plant on its site in Jamnagar, Gujarat, capable of processing heavy crudes.
* South Korea's second-biggest oil refiner, GS Caltex , partly owned by Chevron Corp, said in January 2011 it would invest almost $1 billion in a unit to upgrade heavy oil to lighter fuel. It completed another $1.6 billion upgrading unit in 2007 and another $2.19 billion unit in 2010, according to industry sources.
* Korea's fourth-largest refiner, Hyundai Oilbank , completed a $2.3 billion heavy oil upgrading facility in January 2011, industry sources said.
* Repsol completed a $5.74 billion upgrade of two of its Spanish plants in 2011, allowing them to process a greater proportion heavy oil and produce more middle distillates, such as diesel and jet fuel, industry sources said.
* Total completed a $2.2 billion expansion in 2011 of its Port Arthur refinery in Texas, a dding facilities to help it process heavy crude.
* In 2011 ConocoPhillips and Cenovus Energy Inc finished a $3.7 billion expansion and upgrade of their jointly owned refinery in Wood River, Illinois, allowing it to process an extra 65,000 bpd of heavy Canadian oil.
* In 2008, BP began construction at its refinery in Whiting, Indiana as part of a project costing at least $3 billion to allow it to process greater volumes of heavy Canadian crude oil.
* Marathon Petroleum Corp is implementing a $2.2 billion heavy oil upgrading project at its Detroit refinery, due to be completed later this year.
* State oil company Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. last month signed contract worth almost $3 billion to upgrade its Puerto la Cruz refinery to process heavy oil. (Reporting By Hannah Vinter; Editing by Christopher Johnson and Jane Baird)