North Refineries Co. (NRC), a subsidiary of Iraq’s Ministry of Oil, has commissioned a 13,000-b/d crude distillation unit (CDU) at its refinery in Kirkuk, lifting overall processing capacity at the site to more than 50,000 b/d. The unit, which entered operation in mid-December, follows commissioning of another 10,000-b/d CDU earlier in the year, the ministry said in a release. With startup of the two units now completed, the refinery is operating at a capacity of 56,000 b/d, the ministry said.

The new CDUs join the refinery’s original three CDUs, each of which have a crude processing capacity of 10,000 b/d.  Upon announcing startup of the refinery’s fourth CDU in March, NRC only planned the recently commissioned fifth CDU to have a processing capacity of 10,000 b/d, the ministry said in a Mar. 8 release.  The ministry did not disclose details regarding a source of the additional 3,000 b/d capacity to account for the discrepancy between the expanded refinery’s apparent 53,000-b/d nameplate and 56,000-b/d operating capacities.

The largest of Iraq’s state-owned refiners, NRC also completed rehabilitation and restart of its 14,000-b/d Qalarah, 16,000-b/d Haditha, and 30,000-b/d Sainia refineries earlier this year, the ministry said.  Despite financial hardship as the country continues to rebuild, develop, and further expand its oil and gas industry, Iraq has announced a host of proposed downstream expansions and greenfield projects during the past year, according to a series of ministry releases.  Including the 140,000-b/d refinery in southern Karbala Province already under construction, these projects are part of Iraq’s longer-term plan to construct four refineries to add 750,000 b/d of refining capacity. The additional planned projects include a 300,000-b/d Nassiriya refinery as well as refineries in Maysan and Kirkuk (