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Tue 5 Jan 2010 12:16 PM

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ENOC to begin Jebel Ali refinery upgrade in April

CEO of Dubai refiner says sequential commissioning due to be completed by April.

Dubai's government-owned refiner Emirates National Oil Co (ENOC) aims to start its upgraded Jebel Ali refinery in April, the group's chief executive said on Tuesday.

ENOC began commissioning units at the plant in December after completing the $850m overhaul. The project's initial budget was around $500m, but Jebel Ali, like many other energy projects worldwide, suffered cost inflation as oil ran up to a record high near $150 a barrel in 2008.

"Sequential commissioning is expected to be completed by April this year. The refinery is of 120,000 bbls/day capacity," ENOC Group's Chief Executive Saeed Khoory said in a statement.

The upgrade would allow ENOC to convert naphtha to reformate, and give it capacity to produce 40,000 bpd of the gasoline component. The upgrade has added a reformer and a hydrotreater to the plant.

It would also produce sweet naphtha with a sulphur content of 5 parts per million and a high paraffin content, according to the statement.

The full capacity of the refinery will be 120,000 barrels per day (bpd), and it would operate at 80 percent capacity in the first quarter, Khoory said in December.

Last year, ENOC tried to gain control over Dragon Oil Plc which operates mainly in oil and gas-rich Turkmenistan, in a move to boost assets to meet increasing domestic energy demands.

However, shareholders in the London- and Dubai-listed firm rejected ENOC's $1.9bn acquisition bid of November 2 for 48.5 percent of the Dragon stock it did not already own.

The vote was a setback for ENOC's plan to become an integrated up- and downstream oil company.

Jebel Ali is the smallest of four refineries in the UAE. The largest is the Ruwais plant run by the refining unit of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and has capacity of 415,000 bpd. (Reuters)

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