The local KAR Group plans to launch the third phase of expansion at the Kalak Refinery near Erbil in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq

Refining capacity will be boosted to 185,000 barrels a day (b/d), from 80,000 b/d currently.

The refinery’s new process units and utilities will be provided by the US’ Ventech Engineering, according to a 9 August company statement.

These include modules for crude distillation units, naphtha hydrotreaters, catalytic reformers, isomerisation units, demercaptanisation systems and supporting utilities.

The Kalak Refinery is operated by KAR Oil & Gas, a member of the KAR Group. Operations began in July 2009, processing 20,000 b/d of crude oil from the Khurmala Dome formation of the Kirkuk field to produce diesel, kerosene and fuel oil. The second phase provided an additional 60,000 b/d and was completed in 2011.

The third expansion consists of two 30,000-b/d modular complexes, as well as a new 15,000-b/d condensate processing facility. According to KAR, the refinery is the sole producer of unleaded gasoline in Iraq, as well as the largest privately owned refinery in the country.

The Kurdistan region is a net importer of refined products, despite having excess crude oil production. To counter that, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is planning to raise its refining capacity. UK-listed oil firm Genel Energy estimates that the KRG has a domestic refining capacity of 160,000 b/d and expects this to increase to as much as 250,000 b/d by the end of 2013.