Serigne Mboup, Director General of the Société Africaine de Raffinage (SAR), spoke to Africa Oil & Power about how the oldest refinery in West Africa has put together an ambitious extension plan to meet local demand requirements. Senegal will start producing crude oil from its offshore Sangomar field in 2023.
What modernizations and works have been carried out on the SAR site since 2018?
The primary objective of the refinery’s development is to increase its gasoil and liquefied petroleum gas processing capacity by 15% to 20%, while also lifting technical constraints which limit the performance of production equipment. In addition, in anticipation of changes in product specifications, it is necessary for the refinery to be able to adapt to these future developments.
The Société Africain de Raffinage (SAR) carried out a preliminary study of refining models in order to improve the refinery’s market positioning in order to respond adequately to the local markets’ needs. The solutions adopted for its development should enable it to adapt, with possible modifications, to future evolutions of petroleum product specifications in
Africa (in particular, the AFRI4 and AFRI 5 norms for cleaner fuel).
Several avenues are being studied including hydrocracking; moderate hydrocracking; processes allowing the conversion of light distillates into gasoil by producing limited gasoline; catalytic cracking and diesel desulfurization.
In the perspective of Sangomar field’s first productions in 2023, what major infrastructure projects are underway?
The increase in processing capacities of atmospheric distillation, with the addition of a preflash column and catalytic reforming was chosen in a first phase. The implementation of this solution is underway in order to process a stronger inflow of crude while also adapting the process to refine the Sangomar crude oil found in Senegal.
The second phase will concern the establishment of a diesel desulphurization unit to reduce the sulfur content in diesel and petrol. The main objectives of increasing refining capacity and adapting units to process Sangomar crude oil include: improvement of processing capacities in order to accommodate crude oil from the Sangomar field, via the addition of a preflash column and catalytic reforming; the extension of distillation capacities to increase crude oil processing from 1.2 to 1.5 million tons of crude per year; reduction of losses caused by flaring; the extension of the catalytic reforming unit to increase the production (from 14 to 18 tons per hour) of reformates; increasing reliability of equipment; and upgrading equipment dedicated to the safety of people and facilities.
Without a doubt, the increase in the crude oil throughput will be accompanied by greater coverage of the Senegalese market and the availability of larger quantities of fuel oil. These fuels will help to make the programs more effective on public transport and coverage of the territory in terms of electrification.
What about the gas monetization plan? What is the SAR’s role in the project?
The Grand Tortue Ahmeyim gas field, discovered in 2015, is shared with Mauritania. The development of this deposit was the subject of a production sharing agreement between the two countries, signed in early 2018. Reserves are estimated at 700 billion cubic meters and production could start as early as 2023. BP has carried out a new discovery of gas at sea, Yakaar-1, in 2017, located entirely in Senegalese waters.
To monetize Senegalese and Mauritanian gas, BP plans to build a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) port, located on the border of the two countries. Another option could be the construction of the Atlantic gas pipeline, a project supported by Morocco, which would link Nigeria to Spain along the Atlantic coast, and thus create a West African natural gas market. Major oil companies and governments identified six countries with high potential for natural gas monetization: Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, Senegal, Mauritania, Nigeria and Angola.
This interest in Senegal, which was declared the best destination in Africa during the 2016 edition of Africa Oil Week, indicates that Senegal confirms industry projections.
Is the SAR looking for technical and financial partners? If yes, for what purpose?
A company like the SAR always needs technical and financial partners who can support it in everyday operations as well as funding of key projects. The major projects related to the extension of capacities and the adaptation of units for the processing of Sangomar crude oil, as well as the implementation of the new integrated information system, have mobilized several financial and technical partners such as German software company SAP and French-American service company TechnipFMC.
The same is true of the logistics infrastructures, which must accompany these projects such as the crude oil and petroleum product tanks, the white product and butane sea-lines, etc. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the State of Senegal, majority shareholder of the SAR, which has enabled us, through an innovative financing mechanism, to have payment guarantees making access easier to sources of investment finance. We must also pay a tribute to the Head of State, H.E. Macky Sall who instructed all the ministries concerned to provide assistance and support to the SAR for the mobilization of the capital necessary to finance our projects.
On another note, as part of a well-considered partnership with various institutions and in particular the National Institute of Oil and Gas, SAR employees can benefit from training at different levels in order to always be at the forefront of technical and scientific progress.