Abu Dhabi state-owned Acelen plans to step up crude throughput at its newly acquired 333,000 b/d Mataripe refinery in Brazil to meet growing demand in the country's thirsty northeast region.
Owned by Mubadala Capital, Acelen plans to utilize 100pc of capacity from a current 65pc, the company tells Argus.
"It is important to highlight that we are going to take the refinery operation to its maximum capacity to serve, primarily, the northeastern Brazilian market," the company said in response to questions.
The northeastern region accounted for 21pc of Brazil's total gasoline demand of 23.2bn liters (485,000 b/d) between January and October 2021, according to Brazil's oil regulator ANP. The region's diesel share was 16pc nationwide, with a total of 45.4bn l consumed in the country during the period.
Mubadala, Abu Dhabi's state-owned investment fund, paid Brazil's state-controlled Petrobras $1.8bn for the refinery that was officially transferred to Acelen on 1 December. Utilization rates at Mataripe averaged around 69pc in 2016-20 and dropped to 58pc in the first 10 months of 2021, according to ANP data.
Fuel production averaged around 228,000 b/d in the same five-year period and around 195,000 b/d in January-October this year. Gasoline and diesel make up around 60pc of the refinery's yield. The remainder is LPG, fuel oil, jet fuel and other products.
The percentage of domestic crude processed at Mataripe was around 92pc over the last five years but has recently climbed to 96pc. Asked about feedstock diversification, Acelen said such "studies are in the technical, economic and market feasibility stage."
Petrobras and the company's logistics subsidiary Transpetro will continue to operate Mataripe under a service agreement expected to extend into the first half of 2023.
Acelen says its primary short-term focus is ensuring a seamless transition but that opportunities offered by the refinery's diversified industrial park but new product lines, including biorefining, could be analyzed in the future.
Elsewhere in Brazil, Mubadala is partnered with US investment firm EIG in Prumo Logistica, which operates the Acu port commodities hub in Rio de Janeiro state.
Mataripe is the first of Petrobras' eight refinery sales to close. A $33mn agreement with Canadian bank Forbes & Manhattan for the 6,000 b/d SIX refinery and a $189.5mn deal with Brazilian fuel distributor Atem for 46,000 b/d Isaac Sabba (REMAN) are expected to close in 2022. Sales agreements for 8,000 b/d Lubnor and 166,000 b/d Gabriel Passos (REGAP) are advancing, according to Petrobras chief executive Joaquim Silva e Luna.