Petrotahlil - China's state-controlled Sinopec is reorienting its 180,000 b/d Anqing refinery towards petrochemical production, in line with moves by Chinese refiners to upgrade their plants and expand further downstream.
Work on the 11bn yuan ($1.5bn) project at Anqing in the central province of Anhui started in early May. A Yn6.6bn first phase aims to produce around 2mn t/yr of olefins and aromatics, including 150,000 t/yr of ethylene, 640,000 t/yr of propylene and 610,000 t/yr of aromatics products. Trial production is scheduled for late 2022. A second, Yn4.4bn phase will add another 650,000 t/yr of unspecified chemical output.
Refined product output will be cut by a third after the project is complete, with the gasoline yield rising at the expense of diesel. Anqing is also expanding its pipeline connections to replace fuel transportation by river. Sinopec opened an 88,000 b/d oil products pipeline linking Anqing to the cities of Hefei, Huainan, Bengbu and Fuyang in late 2016.
Anqing will stop operating its 1.4mn t/yr fluid catalytic cracker (FCC) and 700,000 t/yr deep catalytic cracking unit, which are located near a residential area, for environmental reasons. The project will involve adding a new 3mn t/yr DCC that will enable the refinery to process crude with a higher sulphur content of 1.5pc.
The switch to petrochemical output comes amid rising oversupply of fuels in China, after refining capacity expanded rapidly in recent years and new, large private-sector refineries ZPC and Hengli started production last year. Chinese refiners are also looking to value-added products to help them compete in the global market and maximize profitability.
State-controlled PetroChina similarly upgraded its 200,000 b/d Liaoyang refinery in Liaoning province last year, reducing output of heavy oil products and starting to produce 800,000 t/yr of paraxylene and 140,000 t/yr of adipic acid.
Anqing currently produces 30,000 t/yr of polypropylene, 100,000 t/yr of ethylbenzene and styrene and 210,000 t/yr of acrylonitrile, among other products. It will scale up output of these products through the upgrading project.