ADNOC’s carbon black and coker project incorporates a coker, known in the oil and gas industry as a ‘delayed coker’, which will allow ADNOC Refining to recover highly specialised and valuable grades of carbon black and calcined coke. Not only will it create higher value from what would otherwise be used for low value fuel oil, but both products are essential to industrial processes within ADNOC subsidiaries and other UAE industries, potentially removing the need to import costly raw materials.
With this, ADNOC will extract the maximum value from ‘bottom-of-the-barrel’ heavy oils and slurry, as it delivers on its aggressive downstream strategy.
Increasing the flexibility of ADNOC’s refining assets to stretch the value of every barrel of oil – and produce additional feedstocks and additives for the petrochemical industry – is a key pillar of ADNOC’s downstream expansion strategy, announced at its Downstream Investment Forum earlier this year. The strategy will see ADNOC become a world-class producer, supplier and trader of refined and petrochemical products, as it focuses on growth markets in Asia, including China.
ADNOC’s multi-billion-dirham downstream investment programme will see the company’s refining capacity increase by more than 65%, or 600,000bpd, by 2025, through the addition of a third refinery, creating a total capacity of 1.5 million barrels per day (mbpd).
The new refinery will significantly increase the capability, flexibility and output of Abu Dhabi’s refining operations by adding to the range of crudes that can be processed. ADNOC also plans to build one of the world’s largest mixed feed crackers, which will enable it to produce additional feedstocks and additives for the petrochemicals industry.
Abdulaziz AlHajri, director of ADNOC’s Downstream Directorate, said: “At the heart of our downstream strategy is a $45bn investment, over the next five years, that will create the world’s largest integrated refining and petrochemicals hub in Ruwais, where ADNOC will convert 20% of its crude to chemicals, tripling petrochemical production capacity to 14.4 million tonnes per year, by 2025. In parallel, ADNOC intends to build an international, integrated downstream presence, including securing additional crude refining capacity in growth markets.”
The commissioning of the new coker unit coincided with the first production of green petroleum coke in the UAE. An intermediate product, green petroleum coke can be further processed to produce either fuel oils, or calcine petroleum coke, a raw material used by the aluminium and steel industries.
Jasem Ali Al Sayegh, CEO of ADNOC Refining, said: “We are delighted to introduce technology that extracts more value from our downstream operations. The successful commissioning of the coker project, along with the production of the first green coke created in the UAE, will improve ADNOC Refining’s margins by maximising value from every barrel of crude oil that we refine. By working with local petrochemicals and aluminium industries and engaging new local and international customers for these high-value products, we will deliver greater value to ADNOC and more broadly to the UAE economy.”
Through the carbon black and coker project, ADNOC Refining can produce 40,600 tonnes of two different grades of carbon black per year, and 430,000 tonnes of high-value anode grade calcined coke. Borouge, a joint venture between ADNOC and Borealis, makes extensive use of special carbon black grades across a range of products, including high-pressure water and gas pipes, steel pipe coatings and linings, and standalone piping.
Calcined coke is a key ingredient in the anodes used in the electrolysis process that separates pure aluminium from bauxite ore. The UAE is the world’s sixth-largest aluminium producer, accounting for over 50% of the Gulf’s aluminium production, with annual production of 2.6 million metric tonnes in 2017.