The Thailoil refinery in Sriracha, Thailand is undergoing a massive upgrade and expansion under the name of Clean Fuel Project to improve the production processes and expand the refining capacity.

Thai Oil Public Company(Thaioil), a subsidiary of the state-owned oil and gas company PTT, is the owner and operator of the refinery.

The project will increase the crude oil refining capacity from 275,000 barrels per day(bpd) to 400,000bpd. It will also include the installation of new processing units to handle heavy crude.

The investment in the Clean Fuel Project which is estimated to cost approximately £3.6bn ($4.8bn) was approved by Thaioil in August 2018. The project is expected to be completed in 2023.

Location and site details

The refinery is located in the Sriracha district, in the Chonburi province of Thailand, approximately 125km south-east of Bangkok. The Thaioil Sriracha refinery facility is spread over approximately 910 acres near the Laem Chabang port on the eastern coast of the Gulf of Thailand.

Refinery details

The Thaioil Sriracharefinery that started operations in 1964 with an initial refining capacity of 35,000bpdhas evolved into a complex refinery performing various separation, conversion/reforming, and treatment processes.

The separation process comprises six units including three crude distillation units (CDU) and three vacuum distillation units (VDU). The conversion/reforming process consists of seven units that include an isomerisation unit, two continuous catalyst regeneration (CCR) platformer units, a fluidised catalytic cracking (FCC) unit, two hydrocracking units, and a thermal cracking unit.

The treatment process comprises seven units including two hydrodesulphurisation units, three hydrotreating units, and two kerosene merox treater units.

New processing units

The new processing facilities that will be installed as part of the Clean Fuel Project includes a crude distillation unit (CDU), a high vacuum distillation unit (VDU), a hydrocracking unit, a vacuum residue hydrocracking unit (VRHU), a hydrogen manufacturing unit, a hydrotreating unit, a hydrodesulphurisation (HDS) unit, a sulphur recovery unit (SRU) and an energy recovery unit (ERU).

The existing units that will be discontinued as part of the project include two crude distillation units, a high vacuum distillation unit, two hydrotreating units, a fluidised catalytic cracking unit, and a thermal cracking unit.

The new crude distillation unit (CDU) with a refining capacity of 220,000bpd will replace two existing CDUs.

The Nelson Index of the refinery is expected to increase from 9.8 to 12 after the Clean Fuel Project completion.

Energy Recovery Unit (ERU)

Global Power Synergy (GPSC), a subsidiary of PTT, agreed to buy the new energy recovery unit (ERU) from Thaioil for £582m ($757m) in May 2019. The ERU will generate up to 250MW of electricity and 175t of steam per hour. The petroleum pitch produced in the refinery will be used as fuel for ERU.

The ERU, a part of the Clean Fuel project, is currently under construction. The acquisition of ERU by GPSC reduces the Thaioil’s investment in the project by as much as 15%. The acquisition is expected to be completed in 2023. The electricity and steam generated by the ERU will be utilised by the refinery.

Contractors involved with the Sriracha refinery expansion

Amec Foster Wheeler (now Wood Group) received the front-end engineering design (FEED) contract for the Thaioil Clean Fuel project in August 2016.

A Petrofac-led consortium including Saipem and Samsung Engineering Corporation was awarded engineering, procurement, construction, and commissioning (EPCC) services contract for the Clean Fuel Project in October 2018.

The scope of the contract includes the installation of new processing facilities as well as improvements and expansion of existing facilities in the refinery. The total value of the contract is approximately £3bn ($4bn) with the share of Petrofac and Saipem estimated to be£1.07bn ($1.4bn) each.

McConnell Dowell was contracted by the Petrofac-led consortium for the earthworks and civil works in both the existing refinery and the new expansion areas in July 2020, while Sunpower Group was awarded a £7.5m ($9.14m) contract by the consortium to supply heat exchangers in August 2019.

BT Wealth Industries was sub-contracted by the Petrofac-led consortium for module production of steel structures, metal pipe assembly, electrical equipment, and cable installation, while ATB Group was subcontracted to manufacture and supply the pressure vessels for the project.

Worley received an engineering, procurement, and construction management (EPCM) services contract for the refinery from Thaioil in May 2019.

Haldor Topsoe secured a contract from Thaioil to provide SNOX air quality control technology for the ERU in April 2020. The scope of the contract includes the supply of proprietary equipment and catalyst. Three parallel SNOX lines will be used to remove sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and dust from the circulating fluidised bed boilers.