Qatar's Ras Laffan 2 condensate splitter to launch in October

Qatargas’ Laffan refinery under construction. Photo courtesy of Qatargas.

(Reuters) Qatargas will start operations at its new Ras Laffan 2 condensate splitter by the end of October, doubling the Gulf state's capacity to process condensate, two sources with knowledge of the matter said Monday.

The 146 Mbpd facility had been due to open in September, but was delayed due to technical problems, traders said.

It will process deodorized field condensate (DFC) and low sulfur field condensate to extract mostly naphtha and middle distillates.

Condensate exports from Qatar will drop from 500 Mbpd to about 350 Mbpd when the 146 Mbpd 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 US and Iranian light oil shipments.

Commissioning of the new splitter is "99%" 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 authorized 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 date.

Qatari state-marketer Tasweeq withdrew offers for at least 1.5 MMbbl 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 MMbbl of DFC for end-October loading prior to its offers for November-loading condensate supplies.

Reporting by Tom Finn and Mark Tay; Editing by Susan Fenton

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