DOHA/SINGAPORE Oct 3 Qatargas, the world's
largest LNG producer, will start operations at its new Ras
Laffan 2 condensate splitter by the end of this month, doubling
the Gulf state's capacity to process condensate, two sources
with knowledge of the matter said on Monday.
The 146,000 barrel per day (bpd) facility had been due to
open in September but was delayed due to technical problems,
It will process deodorized field condensate (DFC) and low
sulphur field condensate to extract mostly naphtha and middle
Condensate exports from Qatar will drop from 500,000 bpd to
about 350,000 bpd when the 146,000-bpd splitter starts
operating, an official at Qatar Petroleum, Qatargas's
state-owned majority shareholder, has said. That will enable the
Gulf state to soak up some of its condensate at home as it faces
growing competition for condensate sales overseas from U.S. and
Iranian light oil shipments.
Commissioning of the new splitter is "99 percent" complete
and an imminent handover to operator Qatargas is likely to see
the plant start up "within the next two weeks," a Doha-based
source, who declined to be named because he was not authorised
to speak publicly, told Reuters.
Japan's Chiyoda Corp is building the refinery in a
joint venture with Taiwan's CTCI Corp.
"We are at the final moment. There were no technical
problems from our end," Chiyoda's general manager in Qatar,
Toshiyuki Ito, told Reuters, but would not confirm a start-up
Qatari state-marketer Tasweeq withdrew offers for at least
1.5 million barrels of prompt November-loading DFC last week,
traders with knowledge of the matter said, possibly indicating
the splitter is likely to open imminently.
Initial offers for November-loading cargoes had indicated
that the condensate splitter was more likely to start operations
in November than October as the oil firm was seen reducing its
November feedstock requirements by opting to sell prompt
cargoes, traders said.
Tasweeq sold 2 million barrels of DFC for end-October
loading prior to its offers for November-loading condensate
(Reporting by Tom Finn in DOHA and Mark Tay in SINGAPORE;
Editing by Susan Fenton)