Petrojam Limited is to introduce two new products, petcoke and sulphur, once the capacity of the refinery has been expanded through its Refinery Upgrade Project, according to Project Manager, Andrea Reid.
Mrs. Reid told a public meeting to discuss the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report, at the Garmex HEART Academy, Kingston, Thursday (July 2), that even though these are by-products, they have a lot of value.
“The petcoke that will come from the Delayed Coker Unit will be used for electricity generation, and the sulphur that we will recover from the products will also be able to be used, locally, to make sulphuric acid. They can be used for fertilisers, etcetera,” Mrs. Reid stated.
As part of the upgrade process, she noted that facilities will be installed to produce a much lower level of sulphur in diesel, which will meet current specifications.
Minister of Energy and Mining, Hon. James Robertson (left), Leader of the Opposition, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller (centre) and Managing Director of Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), Ruth Potopsingh, in discussion during a public meeting at the Garmex HEART Academy in Kingston on Thursday (July 2), to discuss the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report of Petrojam’s Refinery Upgrade Project.
“We are going to be employing what we call deep conversion technologies, in particular, the Delayed Coker Unit, which will convert the heavy fuel oil into higher valued products,” she explained.
She said that the upgrade was necessary as Jamaica needs to maintain some level of energy security, and the refinery is viewed as a strategic asset of the Government, although there are some challenges affecting its long term viability.
Noting that the refinery was built in 1963, Mrs. Reid explained that it has basically remained the same, apart from a few minor upgrades. Therefore, the capacity has not kept pace with market demand. Certain issues that have been identified are expected to be resolved by the upgrade project, she said.
“The issue of market demand is going to be resolved, because we are going to increase the capacity of the crude unit from 35,000 to 50,000 barrels per day, and also increase the capacity of the gasoline production unit,” Mrs. Reid said.
“We also have challenges, because people have become more concerned about the environment, and so the products that we make have to meet more stringent environmental requirements and, because about half of our production is low value fuel oil, we also need to be able to upgrade that fuel oil into higher value products, to increase the profitability of the refinery and to be able to keep prices where they are right now,” she said.
“We will be making some vacuum gas oil, which will be exported and which will also add to the foreign exchange earning capacity of the country,” she added.
In terms of the timeline for the three-phased project, the Project Manager informed that the Front End Engineering Design (FEED), which falls under the first phase, is expected to be completed in a couple of weeks.
The meeting, to discuss the EIA Report for Petrojam’s Refinery Upgrade Project, was the final in a series of consultations carried out over a one-year period.
Consultations were conducted with communities within a two kilometre zone of the refinery, including Greenwich Town, Tivoli Gardens, Rose Town and Whitfield Town.
General Manager of Petrojam, Wintson Watson, said that the project is a joint venture with Venezuela Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the state oil company of Venezuela.
“We believe we have an extremely viable project, which will offer major benefits to Jamaica and the people of Jamaica,” he said. He also noted that the project will entail the upgrading of some existing processing units and adding new processing units and waste treatment units.
Mr. Watson said that the project is of national importance and is expected to achieve a number of technical and national objectives, including reducing the importing of finished petroleum products, and increasing the refinery’s capacity to meet market demand.
Petrojam is Jamaica’s sole oil refinery and a subsidiary of the PCJ, a statutory body wholly owned by the Government, which supplies a full range of domestic, transportation and industrial petroleum products.