Bahrain’s Sitra refinery is now able to receive its full requirement of crude oil from Saudi Arabia through a new pipeline, the kingdom’s oil minister, Sheikh Mohammed al-Khalifa said.

Saudi Aramco and the Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco) announced in October the successful commissioning of the AB-4 pipeline, a new phase of the strategic pipeline transporting crude oil from Aramco to Bahrain.

Sheikh Khalifa was speaking at the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference on 12 November.

The new 30-inch pipeline, which cost an estimated $400m, runs 112 kilometres from Saudi Aramco’s Abqaiq processing plants to the Sitra refinery. It replaces an older 230,000 barrels a day (b/d) pipeline built in the 1940s, which has now been decommissioned.

The new pipeline is capable of transporting up to 350,000 b/d of crude oil, well above the refinery’s actual capacity of 267,000 b/d. It processes crude produced by Aramco from the offshore Abu Safa oil field, shared by Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Bapco plans to expand Sitra’s processing capacity, and awarded a $4.2bn contract last December to a joint venture of France’s Technip and South Korea’s Samsung Engineering for the long-planned expansion and modernisation.

Slated for completion in 2022, the expansion will increase the refinery’s total capacity by a third to 360,000 b/d. It includes a new residue hydrocracking unit, hydrocracker, hydro-desulphurisation unit, crude distillation unit and vacuum distillation unit, among others to help produce higher value products.