Sudan is in early discussions over the development of a new 200,000 barrels a day (b/d) grassroots refinery on its Red Sea coast to help it cope with rising oil product demand, the country’s oil minister Azahari Abdalla said.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (Adipec), the minister did not give any further details about when tenders for the refinery’s technology licenses, design, or engineering and construction may begin, or even a planned start date. His office focuses on reinvigorating oil production after years of declines due to sanctions on international investments.

However, a new downstream facility is sorely needed. Sudan has a total installed capacity of about 150,000 b/d. Of this only 110,000 b/d of capacity is operational, mostly at the 100,000 b/d Al-Jalil complex in Khartoum and the small El-Obeid topping plant.

Port Sudan, the planned location for the new refinery also houses a small 21,000 b/d refinery which was built in the 1960s, but is no longer operational.

Malaysia’s Petronas signed a contract with the Sudanese government in 2015 to expand the Port Sudan refinery in a joint venture, adding 100,000 b/d, but the development stalled as prices rose. Now the government is looking at a completely new scheme instead.