Saudi Aramco's Ras Tanura hydrocracking unit suffered an outage last week, prompting the state oil firm to sell a cargo of A961 fuel oil for end-September loading, with more offers expected, traders said on Friday. Aramco's problem-ridden 44,000 barrels per day (bpd) hydrocracker is expected to be re-started sometime next week, after undergoing repairs to plug a leak, industry sources told Reuters."The hydrocracker was down last week due to a hydrocarbon leak. It's still not up. They are working on it, and repairs should be completed by end of next week at the latest," said an industry source.
As a result of the outage, Aramco has sold 70,000-90,000 tonnes of A961 cracked 180-cst fuel oil for Sept. 23-25 loading from the refinery last weekend, the second in about a month.
French major Total was seen fixing a 80,000-tonne fuel oil shipment out of Ras Tanura for end-September loading, shipping reports showed. Price details were not immediately known.
Aramco last sold an A961 parcel for Aug. 25 lifting from Ras Tanura to FAL Oil at $4-$4.50 per tonne above Singapore spot quotes, on a free-on-board (FOB) basis.
This is not the first time the diesel-making unit has had an outage. The unit was re-started in the last week of June after a lengthy shutdown, which had prompted Aramco to offer unusually high volumes of straight-run A960 fuel oil earlier this year.
The state-run company had initially failed to bring the hydrocracker at the 550,000-bpd refining complex back online in May.
In the last extended outage, industry sources suggested that a repeated failure on the fin fan coolers, which are used for product cooling and separation, was responsible.
Between mid-June and late August this year, the top oil exporter had offered a total of six A961 cargoes loading from Ras Tanura.
Three parcels were each taken by Middle East firm FAL Oil and European trader Vitol. Prices transacted ranged from a discount of $1 per tonne to a premium of $7 per tonne to Singapore spot quotes, FOB.
Prior to the sale of the A961 parcels, Aramco had sold unusually high volumes of straight-run A960 fuel oil cargoes -- 11 or a record of almost 1 million tonnes -- between mid-March and end-May, when the unit first went down.