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BEIJING, June 26 (Reuters) - Sinopec Corp (0386.HK), Asia’s top refiner, has completed construction of the first phase of a 4 billion yuan ($582.9 million) expansion at its Wuhan refinery in central China’s Hubei province.
With the new 1.9 million tonne-per-year (tpy) hydrotreating unit for diesel and kerosene delivered on Wednesday, Wuhan has raised its crude processing ability by 30 percent to 130,000 barrels per day (bpd), a report on www.sinopecnews.com.cn, a website run by parent Sinopec Group, said.
Construction of three other facilities in the first phase, including a 100,000 bpd crude unit, a 1.2 million tpy delayed coking unit and a 60,000 tpy sulphur recovery unit, had been completed and operations were normal, the report said.
“The expansion will help ease diesel and gasoline shortages in central China, while directly supply high-quality jet kerosene to airports in the region,” it said.
Wuhan refinery will eventually expand its crude processing capacity to 160,000 bpd by 2010, which includes the addition of a 2 million tpy hydrocracker in the second phase of the expansion.
The expansion is in part to supply feedstock, naphtha, to a $2 billion, 800,000 tpy ethylene complex being built by Sinopec at the same site that SK Energy (096770.KS) agreed in May to buy a 35 percent stake in.
The 160,000-bpd refinery is less than half the size of such coastal refineries as Sinopec Zhenhai, but would be the largest in central China where local fuel demand is surging ahead with strong economic growth.
Sinopec’s plan to boost inland refining capacity covers almost all its plants by the Yangtze river — Baling and Jingmen refineries in Hubei province, Anqing plant in Anhui province and Changling refinery in Hunan province, the company has said. ($1=6.862 YUAN)
Reporting by Jim Bai; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree