|Due to extremely high operating costs, the Assab refinery was closed in 1997. |
The Assab refinery in Assab (Aseb), Eritrea , was a topping and reforming refinery with a nameplate distillation capacity of 875 ktonnes per annum (17,500 bpd), though operation tended to be around 90% of rated capacity. The refinery was owned by the Eritrean government and operated by the EPC. It ran on Soviet Blend crude and its output was shared between Eritrea and larger market of Ethiopia. Until its closure, the refinery had a production agreement with Ethiopia to deliver 700,000 tons per annum of finished products. Typical yields were gasoline (15.3%), gasoil (25.8%) , kerosene (7.3%), fuel oil (44%) with 7.6% of the crude intake going to autoconsumption.
In 1988, Technip conducted a study of the Assab refinery. Their findings suggested that adjustments to the refinery capacity and product configuration would be need to improve refinery operations and to meet future diesel oil demand. The report recommended the introduction of a cracker unit to convert fuel oil to middle distallates. The World Bank recommended that the government consider privatising the refinery, although even then there were indications that the refinery would be closed.
In 1997, the decision was taken to close the refinery due to the exceptionally high running costs. In the following year, hostilities broke out between Ethiopia and Eritrea which would have complicated the effective running of the refinery even further, had it not been closed.