Qatar to reduce condensate exports by 33% in 2017

Jun 21, 2016 12:00 AM

Qatar is set to reduce its condensate exports by a third in January 2017 when a new splitter comes in to operation at its Ras Laffan refinery, according to a Qatar Gas official.

The official, who declined to be named, was quoted by Reuters as saying: "Qatar is exporting around 30 cargoes (of condensate) a month.

"This will be reduced by 10 cargoes a month starting January."

Recovered mainly from gas reservoirs, condensates are very similar to light stabilised crude oil and can be split into various fuel products including naphtha, which is used to make gasoline or dilute heavy crude, for export or to sell domestically.

The US and Iranian light oil shipments have posed competition to Qatari condensate exports, but the new splitter should help Qatar use some of its condensate domestically.

According to the Qatar Gas official, the completion date of the splitter would depend on the progress of tests presently underway on new equipment.

Some ‘technical difficulties’ had been faced at Qatar's first condensate refinery, Laffan 1, which started production in September 2009.

Reuters was informed this month by a Qatar Petroleum official that trials on the new splitter would begin in August.

In 2014, Ibrahim Al Sulaiti, marketing director of condensate at Qatar International Petroleum Marketing Co, or Tasweeq, said that output of full-range naphtha will double with the start of the splitter.

Part of this would then be used as feedstock for new gasoline and aromatics units that are due to come online in late 2017.

The Qatari unit's start-up will increase Middle East naphtha exports to Asia, which is already fraught with a stubborn supply surplus and a lukewarm demand from gasoline producers.

The Qatar Gas official said however, that Qatar would have no difficulty selling the product: “There is no issue about exporting or marketing the project, it's about the premium applicable.”

“We expect during the first phase for there to be a reduction in value (of naphtha) but when the facility comes on stream with a steady flow we should get the right premium. We know the market, we know there is plenty of demand for it.”

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