TURKEY - Energy & Mining
General Manager, SOCAR - STAR Refinery
Mesut İlter has been the General Manager of STAR Refinery since 2017. He previously worked for Tüpraş as the Izmir refinery manager, the Izmit refinery manager, and deputy general manager for technical affairs. İlter has also worked for the Ege Gaz Aliağa LNG Terminal and the Istanbul Oil Refinery. He holds a degree in chemical engineering from Ankara University.
Upon completion in late 2018, SOCAR’s STAR Refinery—Turkey’s single largest FDI—underwent a testing phase and has now reached full development. What did the testing phase involve, and what are the refinery’s production targets for 2019?
The STAR Refinery is one of the newest names in the refining industry. We held the opening ceremony in October 2018, which was followed by a period of pre-commissioning and commissioning activities. These take six to eight months and involve clarifying conditions and looking into the typical challenges faced by large facilities during the start-up stage. During this and the performance testing period, the EPC contractor is responsible for ensuring all units are working as per the design. We are currently close to the end of testing, and the refinery will soon be fully handed over to us. The refinery is currently operating at 100% capacity and is producing all its intended products. It is designed to process 10 million tons of crude oil per annum. Until the end of 2019, we will operate at the maximum capacity and process 7.5 million tons of crude oil.
How is the STAR Refinery reducing Turkey’s energy import requirements?
STAR Refinery will reduce Turkey’s annual current account deficit by around USD1.5 billion. Petkim, SOCAR’s petrochemical facility adjacent to the STAR Refinery, will receive a large share of the refinery’s production, much of which was formerly supplied by imports. Besides raw materials produced for the petrochemical industry, the refinery produces a number of products that Turkey currently imports, such as diesel fuel, jet fuel, LPG, sulfur, and petroleum coke. Some 60% of the annual 24 million tons of diesel fuel consumption is currently supplied by imports, so STAR Refinery’s 5 million-ton annual diesel fuel production will reduce that figure to below 40%. The refinery will also produce 300,000 tons of LPG on an annual basis, reducing the import rate of LPG in Turkey from 80% to 70%. Turkey also imports 3-3.5 million tons of petro-coke on an annual basis, and the refinery’s annual production of 700,000 tons will substantially reduce those import figures as well. STAR Refinery will also annually produce 200,000 tons of sulfur—another imported product in Turkey. Finally, and notably, STAR Refinery will produce approximately 1.5 million tons of jet fuel on an annual basis, providing a substantial contribution to the ever-increasing need for jet fuel in parallel with development of the aviation industry. In recent months, SOCAR Aviation won the tender to provide 700,000 tons of jet fuel for the aircraft at Istanbul Airport on an annual basis for a period of five years. A substantial portion of the jet fuel produced at STAR Refinery will be supplied to Istanbul Airport, as well as many other airports around the country.
What percentage of the refinery’s petrochemical production will be off-taken by Petkim, and what percentage will be sold in the domestic market or exported?
Our refinery will annually produce 1.6 million tons of naphtha, which will go toward meeting Petkim’s entire naphtha demand. In addition to naphtha, Petkim will offtake approximately 200,000 tons of the refinery’s 1 million-ton production capacity of reformate and xylene. The remaining 800 million tons will be exported in the short term. This will change once SOCAR’s planned investment in a pure terephthalic acid facility in Aliağa is completed in 2023. Upon completion of this, the entire combination of reformate-xylene produced at STAR will be used as raw material domestically.
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