Libya's Lanuf refinery to start up "within months"

Libya's largest refinery, Ras Lanuf, will resume output within months and will be expanded to double its current capacity over four years, a joint venture partner said on Tuesday.

Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair's Dubai-based group set up a joint venture with the Libyan National Oil Corporation in 2009 -- the Libyan Emirati Refining Co -- to own and operate the refinery.

Ras Lanuf can process up to 220,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) and accounts for well over half of the country's total oil refining capacity.

The refinery was halted during last year's uprising against the rule of Muammar Gadaffi and the reopening date has consistently been pushed back. The NOC had hoped to have the refinery back up at the end of 2011.

"We are looking at getting it to start again - in the next few months, it will start," Al Ghurair, who is part of a trade delegation from the United Arab Emirates, told reporters in the Libyan capital.

While the current focus is on getting the refinery operational again - Al Ghurair said it was "slightly" damaged during the country's civil unrest - the aim was to expand it going forward.

"We are looking to expand, to double the capacity, so once we have the expansion plan it should be doing 400,000 barrels a day," Al Ghurair, who is chief executive of Mashreq bank, Dubai's second-largest lender by market value, said.

"It will take four years to complete the expansion."

Al Ghurair cautioned that the speed of the refinery's build-out would be dictated by market conditions.

The UAE was the second Arab state to recognise the Transitional National Council as the legitimate government of the North African country and, along with Qatar, was the only Arab country to offer military assistance to NATO operations against former leader Muammar Gaddafi.

"What we are looking at, UAE companies, is to come and set up shop quickly," Al Ghurair said.

(Source: Reuters)

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