The proposed new pipeline will provide additional feedstock for future expansions of the refinery. The cabinet decision is likely to trigger the issue of a tender for a pre-front-end engineering and design (FEED) study by Aramco. It will look at the potential route, capacity and cost of the new pipeline.

The current route runs from Abqaiq to Dhahran in Saudi Arabia and then on to Bahrain. Officials involved in the project say that the new route will most likely run directly from Abqaiq, and south of the existing pipeline in Bahrain.

Design capacity is also expected to be increased to about 350,000 barrels a day (b/d) from the current 250,000 b/d.

‘Options are also being considered for an integrity check of the A-B pipeline, with a view to refurbishing the existing link,’ says an industry source. The 12-inch-diameter, 54-kilometre-long A-B pipeline supplies feedstock crude to Sitra sourced from Saudi Arabia.

Bapco is undertaking an upgrade and expansion programme at the refinery. Low-sulphur diesel production (LSDP) and refinery gas desulphurisation (RGD) projects are under construction while FEED work is under way for a lube base oil refinery at the site (MEED 24:2:06).

Bapco’s Sitra refinery has capacity of 250,000 b/d, with 95 per cent of its output being exported to the region, Europe, Asia and Africa.