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Congo banks on $600-million refinery to end chronic fuel shortages

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Congo president Denis Sassou Nguesso has launched the construction of a huge refinery near the port city of Pointe-Noire to help end chronic fuel shortages facing the central African country.

Atlantic Petrochemical Refinery will have a capacity of 2.5 million tons per year and will cost $600 million.

The refinery will be constructed in two phases, said Congolese Minister of Hydrocarbons Jean-Marc Thystère Tchicaya.

The project will be built on 240 hectares. It is structured by an investment agreement concluded in 2020 between the Congolese government and the Chinese group.

The amount of the contract is 600 million dollars (300 billion CFA francs), according to a parliamentary source which gave no indication of the counterpart.

“The refinery will produce automotive and aviation gasoline, liquefied petroleum gas, diesel, lubricants, bitumen and kerosene,” said Hydrocarbons Minister Jean-Marc Thystère Tchicaya.

“It is a modular refinery with a nominal processing capacity of 2.5 million tons per year. This capacity could be increased if necessary,” according to the Chinese company.

Congo’s first refinery, the Congolaise de raffinage (Coraf), which has been operational for almost 40 years, no longer operates at full capacity and is therefore unable to meet the country’s needs, which are estimated at 1.2 million tons per year.

“The refinery will produce automotive and aviation gasoline, liquified petroleum gas, diesel, lubricants, bitumen, kerosene and other products,” said Mr Tchicaya, during the ceremony. “The new refinery is, therefore, an important link in the diversification the economy in the hydrocarbons sector.”

Congo-Brazzaville has a 1.2-mtpa demand for refined oil products, yet its only refinery – Congolaise de raffinage, which is owned and operated by state-owned SNPC – has a capacity of one million tons per year, and only processes about 60% of that capacity.

With no additional refining capacity available in the region, the Republic of the Congo is re-directing its focus on regional energy growth through the development of the Point-Noire facility.

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