Sri Lanka's CPC Says Completed 35-Day Refinery Overhaul
COLOMBO, April 26 (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's sole state-run fuel retailer Ceylon Petroleum Corp (CPC) on Thursday said its 50,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) refinery completed a 35-day overhaul and renovation, aimed to boost efficiency and productivity.
The island nation has been planning to upgrade its sole, nearly-half-a-century-old oil refinery and double its capacity to boost output and to reduce the cost of importing refined fuels, but that plan has not worked out so far due to financial constraints.
"The scheduled renovation.... focuses on maintenance and replacing critical facilities and equipment to operate the refinery at optimum levels," CPC said in a statement.
The renovation, which started on Feb. 19, took place in the process plant, utilities and the tank farm, with the large-scale overhaul leading to a complete shutdown of the facility.
"The supply gap due to the shutdown of the facility was filled by procuring imported oil by CPC, months ahead of the scheduled 2018 maintenance project."
The maintenance replaced several critical equipment in crude distillation, naphtha hydrotreater, reformer and gas oil hydrotreater units that were nearly 50 years old, it said.
It was originally configured to run on Iranian crude, but since U.S. sanctions were imposed, the country's import of refined product has increased to 70 percent of the total demand from less than 40 percent since 2011 due to inefficiency of the refinery, oil ministry officials have said.
CPC replaced the Iranian crude with supply from Malaysia and Abu Dhabi but the efficiency of processing the grades was low.
Sri Lanka has been in talks with two Chinese companies about investing up to $3 billion to build a new refinery at its Chinese-controlled port. It already has a deal for a 100,000-bpd refinery with Indian Oil Corp at the country's eastern port city of Trincomalee with an aim of exporting fuel.
Sri Lanka's oil import bill jumped 38.2 percent in 2017 versus the prior year to $3.43 billion mainly due to a rise in world oil prices and also because of higher imports of refined oil.
(Reporting by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)
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