A Cleaner Way to Refine

France’s Le Gaz Integral has helped slash emissions at Jordan Petroleum Refinery Company’s Zarqa facility.

By Elisa Oddone

Harmful sulfur dioxide emissions have almost been eliminated at Jordan Petroleum Refinery Company’s (JPRC) Zarqa facility after Le Gaz Integral recently replaced its incinerator with a gas recovery unit.

Le Gaz Integral CEO Stefano Rossati said the refinery, which processes about 70,000 barrels of crude oil per day, has now reduced its sulfur dioxide emissions by 99 percent.

How does the new gas recovery unit work?

The recovery unit captures the sulfur contained in the gases emitted by the refinery, storing it first as a liquid and then transforming it into solid sulfur pastilles. These pastilles are later delivered to the JPRC’s clients and used in other economic sectors. We have so far exported 400 tons of solidified sulfur and saved 800 tons of sulfur dioxide from the atmosphere. However, with a market price of approximately $100 per ton, revenues from the selling of the sulfur is minimal, especially if compared to the multi-million investment made by the refinery to implement this project.

How did the project come about?

We have been involved in this project since the year 2000, when JPRC approached us with first inquiries on how to limit its air pollution emissions. Later, JPRC decided to bolster its initial plans, so we made a proposal based on our past experience with major international oil companies like Total, Exxon, and Chevron and came up with a plan for gas treatment with a very efficient pollution abatement.

What results have you achieved so far?

Before the creation of the new unit in June, the refinery emitted some 50 tons sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere per day. One month on, the refinery only emits one percent of that initial amount, which is an excellent result; even better of what we achieve in refineries in Europe. It was a very tough decision on the refinery’s side to go for such a project. The pollution was a disturbance for the citizens. This was the main drive behind JPRC’s decision to build this environmentally-friendly unit. The environmental difference is now very easy to see. When we started the project, there was a big white yellow plume of heavy gases flowing over nearby villages. Now, it has completely disappeared.

Do you have any plans for other projects in the region?

The refinery in Zarqa is undergoing an expansion, which means that it will produce more sulfur. Therefore, we will continue our collaboration with JPRC with new plans for the enlarged facility. This was the first refinery we worked with in the region, and are now trying to expand our business further to Egypt, the UAE, and Kuwait.