Petronas starts naphtha cracking unit at new Pengerang oil refinery — sources

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SINGAPORE/KUALA LUMPUR (June 19): Malaysian state oil company Petroliam Nasional Bhd or Petronas, and Saudi Aramco, have started operations at their new 1.2-million-tonnes-per-year naphtha cracker, multiple sources familiar the matter said on Wednesday.

The sources added that naphtha was imported this month specifically for the cracker, which had started recently though, an exact time frame could not be confirmed.

Petronas did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The cracker is part of the US$2.7 billion joint-venture oil refinery and petrochemical project known as RAPID — or Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development — located in Pengerang in the state of Johor, at the southern tip of peninsular Malaysia.

The unit cracks naphtha into a chain of hydrocarbons, the bulk of it into ethylene which is predominantly used to produce plastics.

RAPID also houses a 300,000 barrel-per-day refinery, apart from various petrochemical lines which can produce a total of 7.7 million tonnes a year of petrochemical products.

However, the complex was hit by a fire in April, when trial runs were being conducted.

The fire-hit residue desulphrizer (RDS) is still under repair. But RAPID is expected to have middle distillates supplies around August to September, although these fuels may not meet standard specifications, one of the sources added.