France’s Beicip Franlab has the contract to carry out the three-month feasibility study for the new refinery. The study’s first phase will look at the location and configuration of the proposed refinery, which could lead to a second phase involving a pre-front-end engineering and design (FEED) package.

The award of the study follows the signing of memorandums of understanding to develop a new refinery between the Energy & Water Ministry and Qatar Petroleum International (QPI), the investment arm of Qatar Petroleum (QP) in late January and late April. QPI has since opened an office in Beirut (MEED 20:1:06).

‘The refinery is a new [one] which will process either light, medium or heavy crude oil and will supply the domestic and European markets,’ says a senior ministry official. QPI is expected to build the refinery on a 25-year design-build-operate-transfer (DBOT) model, says the official. ‘It is expected to cost upwards of $1,000 million and is in addition to existing refineries at Zahrani and Tripoli which closed down in 1993. We have no plans to upgrade them.’

Zahrani, in the south, had nameplate capacity of 17,500 b/d while Tripoli refinery, in the north, had nameplate capacity of 35,000 b/d. Military conflicts caused both refineries to cease operations in 1989 and 1992 respectively. They are currently used as import terminals and storage facilities for refined oil products.

Relations with Doha have strengthened recently, with Qatar’s High Supreme Council for Economic Affairs & Investment acquiring the local BLC Bank for $236.4 million from Banque du Liban (central bank) in mid-December.