New $ 1.1 bn Tunisian refinery, tenders soon
Foreign investors plan to build a $1.1 bn refinery in southern Tunisia that would process crude oil from neighbouring Algeria and Libya for the Mediterranean market. The refinery, to be build in the coastal oil terminal of La Skhira, 280 km (175 miles) south of Tunis, would process 6 mmt of crude a year. An international tender to build the refinery will be launched at the end of the first quarter of 1997. The finance scheme is already in place, with 20 % from equities, and 80 % from financing. La Skhira, in the Gulf of Gabes, has easy access to regional crudes with an oil pipeline already transporting crude from Algeria's south-eastern oil fields and is near Libya's western oil fields, mainly the Bouri offshore field. The existing pipeline can also be connected to other fields in neighbouring countries. Tunisian production of crude oil, which reached 4.231 mmt in 1995, is declining. Almost all the production is processed at the country's single refinery in Bizerte, 60 km (36 miles) north of Tunis. Additional crude, mainly Arabian light, could come from the Gulf or from the Russian Federation through the Black Sea. The refinery will be built with state-of-the-art technology, with a capacity of 125,000 bpd and will produce premium gasoline (46 %), kerosene (8 %), diesel fuel (39 %), refinery fuel (3 %) and liquefied petroleum gas (4 %). Construction will need two years and that the refinery will have a $1.0 bn turnover per year. Target areas for exports are the southern European countries as a substitute for some low quality fuels existing there, the Mediterranean spot market and also the eastern Mediterranean countries like Syria, Cyprus, Lebanon, and particularly Turkey where there is a large shortage.In September the Tunisian government gave its agreement to the project with an offshore status for the refinery allowing it free import of crudes and export of refined products. It is also permitted to supply the domestic market with up 20 % of its production.