The Mohammedia refinery, which processes around 80 per cent of the kingdom’s domestically refined oil, was badly damaged in late November when first floods then fire swept through the plant. Initial estimates by Samir director Abderrahmane Saaidi put the cost of the damage at MD 1,500 million ($140 million). The refinery had insurance for the damage, but is understood not to have been covered for loss of operations stemming from the fire and flood (MEED 29:11:02, Seven Days).

Extensive damage is understood to have occurred to the refinery’s power and steam generation facilities and Samir is temporarily transferring power to the plant by cable from generating units at the nearby town of Mohammedia. Officials from the company say a more permanent solution will have to be found, whether it is through importing power or constructing a new power plant, and that this is one of the topics on which Samir will be taking advice from MCE Voest.

Before the November damage, Samir officials had been gearing up for a huge expansion project intended to lift the refinery’s capacity to 8.25 million tonnes a year (t/y) from a pre-fire capacity of 6.25 million t/y.

Italy’s Snamprogetti, US-based ABB Lummus Global and Technip-Coflexipof France submitted technical offers for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract just four days after the fire struck, but the closing date for commercial offers has been delayed for an indefinite period (MEED 6:12:02).

‘Until Samir knows the full extent of the damage, and has decided how to get the refinery back on track, the company is in no position to make a decision on the upgrade,’ one European official told MEED. ‘I’d say there is only a 50:50 chance of the expansion going ahead.’

‘Without the capacity increase, the plant will never meet the growing demand for refined product and Morocco will have to start importing diesel,’ says another European industrial official. ‘That would mean an end to Samir’s monopoly and there is likely to be heavy political resistance to that.’