Puerto La Cruz Refinery Deep Conversion Project, Anzoategui, Venezuela

Puerto La Cruz Refinery is owned and operated by Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) and located 300km east of Caracas in the state of Anzoátegui, Venezuela, the country with the world's most reserves of crude oil.

Site preparation works for an expansion called the Deep Conversion Project started at the refinery started in July 2014 and commissioning is expected in 2015. The project will convert existing units and enable the refinery to process 210,000 barrels per day (bpd) of heavy and extra heavy crude oil from oil reserves in the Orinoco Oil Belt (FPO) in place of the 180,000bpd of light and medium oil it currently processes.

Financing for the Deep Conversion Project

Carabobo Oil Project

The onshore oil field development comprises seven production blocks on the eastern part of the Orinoco Belt, Venezuela, believed to contain approximately 513 billion barrels of heavy crude oil.

The overall investment for the project is estimated to be $5.2bn, with $1.5bn being provided by Japan Bank for International Cooperation and seven other banks.

Details of the Puerto La Cruz refinery expansion

The project involves construction of a 50,000bpd deep conversion unit comprised of two trains, a sequential hydroprocessing (SHP) unit comprised of three trains, a 130,000bpd vacuum unit comprised of three trains, a sulphur recovery unit, auxiliary units, service units, tanks and interconnections. The existing atmospheric distillation units 1 and 2 (DA-1 and DA2) will also be upgraded as part of the project.

Initial site preparation works for the project include land improvement, installation of new tankers, and construction of administrative buildings and temporary facilities.

Technologies used at the Venezuelan refinery

The new deep conversion units at the site will feature the patented HDHPlus technology of PDVSA Intevep, a subsidiary of PDVSA. The technology has been in development stage since 1984 and will be commercialised for the first time for the Deep Conversion Project. The SHP unit will implement a technology licenced by Axens.

Two hydrogen reformers with a capacity of 135 million standard cubic feet per day are to be installed. Reformers will incorporate Technip's proprietary technologies including high-efficiency top-fired steam reformers to produce high-purity hydrogen and export steam. Emissions will be minimised by implementing modern nitrogen oxide reduction technology.

Contractors involved

"The technology has been in development stage since 1984 and will be commercialised for the first time for the Deep Conversion Project."

The site preparation works for the project are being performed by Wison through its indirectly non wholly owned subsidiary Wison Engineering. The $834m contract was awarded in September 2013.

Wison Engineering further contracted China Tiesiju Civil Engineering Group (CTCE), China Railway No.9 Group (CREC-9), China Railway Tenth Engineering Group (CREC-10) and TREVI to assist in early activities related to the site preparation works.

The $2.99bn engineering, procurement, construction and start-up assistance contract for the project was awarded to the Hyundai-Wison consortium, comprising Hyundai Engineering and Construction (Hyundai E&C), Hyundai Engineering and Wison, in June 2013.

The contract to provide detail engineering, procurement support and construction management services for the project was awarded to the consortium of Chiyoda Corporation, JGC Corporation and Inelectra in December 2011. Technoconsult has been subcontracted by Inelectra to carry out the detailed engineering for the atmospheric distillation units.

The project management consultants (PMCs) for the project are TOYO and Y&V Ingenieria y Construccion. The contract for the supply of the hydrogen reformers was awarded to Technip by the Hyundai-Wison consortium in July 2013. The contract value ranges from €50m (approximately $67m) to €100m (approximately $134m).

The two hydrocracking units and six hydrotreating reactors were shipped by SAL's MV Lone vessel.

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