It is Vietnam’s first oil refinery and has a capacity of 6.5 million tons of crude oil a year initially. It hopes to increase this to 10 million tons in a few years. GGP spoke to the deputy director of the Vietnam Petrol and Oil Group (PetroVietnam), Truong Van Tuyen, about how the plant took shape. Reeling off figures without referring to any notes, he said the factory began its trial run on July 25. Up to now, most technical processes have been tested thoroughly.

Around 52,500 tons of diesel have been processed during the test run and the refinery’s readiness has been estimated at 99 percent. Tuyen agreed to let the media visit the plant but said “you should come in the evening and also visit Cay Sau hill, which will be used as a vantage point to view the factory.” Cay Sau hill is not too high but with a seven-kilometer road still under construction, conditions very muddy and difficult. At the top of the hill flies the national flag.

From the top, the refinery looked a picture in the afternoon sunlight. We could see a crude oil tank that can contain 390,000 cubic meters (around 210,000 tons) and the actual refinery with its huge distilling towers where petrol products, LPG, and propylene are produced. To build this giant refinery, there were sometimes 15,000 people and 500 foreign experts, working. The engineers and workers who built it would surely do better when they work on future refinery projects, he said.

On November 30 it received its first batch of 80,000 tons of crude oil from Bach Ho (white tiger) oil field for a test run. Tuyen said 25 days after Tet, the first Vietnamese-made petroleum products will come to the market.

By Ha Minh - Sài Gòn Giai Phong - January 26, 2009