Minister of Oil Essam Al-Marzouq during the Shuaiba refinery’s closure.

KUWAIT: The decision to shut down Kuwait's long-running Shuaiba refinery was the result of thorough studies that found the facility to be unfit for business, Minister of Oil Essam Al-Marzouq said yesterday.  Speaking to the press, Al-Marzouq, who is also Minister of Electricity and Water, said that the decision to close the refinery is largely an economical one and that the establishment will still be used to store oil products. Moreover, he noted that the country seeks to boost its oil refining capacity to meet the growing needs of the local market, adding that the closure of Shuaiba refinery will not be detrimental to oil production.

On future projects, he said that Kuwait will sign a deal to partner with Oman's Duqm refinery, which has a capacity of 200,000 barrels per day, on April 10th. On a related note, the Minister of Oil said that Kuwait National Petroleum Company's (KNPC) "Clean Fuel Project" would be 84 percent complete by the end of the month, with an expected total cost of four billion Kuwait Dinars ($13 billion). He also pointed out that an ad hoc committee tasked with monitoring the progress of an OPEC decision to slash oil production is not looking into ways to extend the accord, as such decisions are left to the discretion of OPEC oil ministers, who are set to meet on May 26th.

Soaring gas demand

Meanwhile, Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) CEO Mohammad Al-Mutairi said yesterday Kuwait's Mina Al-Ahmadi Refinery will meet the growing need for gasoline consumption with Shuaiba refinery out of the picture. In a statement to the press, Al-Mutairi said that Mina Al-Ahmadi refinery features two units for gasoline production, in addition to a third for gas compounds. Moreover, he said that KNPC's refining capacity would be 746,000 barrels per day (bpd) after the closure of the long-running Shuaiba refinery, a figure that largely hinges on the needs of the local market. He pointed out that after KNPC's "Clean Fuel Project" comes to fruition next year, the company's refining capacity will be boosted to 801,000 bpd. The KNPC CEO also spoke of plans to import fuel oil as local fuel consumption has skyrocketed. On plans to privatize fuel stations, he said that "it is still tentative at this point" and that the company fully supports the country's private sector. - Agencies