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DOHA/SINGAPORE, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Qatargas, the world's largest LNG producer, will start operations at its new Ras Laffan 2 condensate splitter by the end of this month, doubling the Gulf state's capacity to process condensate, two sources with knowledge of the matter said on Monday.
The 146,000 barrel per day (bpd) facility had been due to open in September but was delayed due to technical problems, traders said.
It will process deodorized field condensate (DFC) and low sulphur field condensate to extract mostly naphtha and middle distillates.
Condensate exports from Qatar will drop from 500,000 bpd to about 350,000 bpd when the 146,000-bpd splitter starts operating, an official at Qatar Petroleum, Qatargas's state-owned majority shareholder, has said. That will enable the Gulf state to soak up some of its condensate at home as it faces growing competition for condensate sales overseas from U.S. and Iranian light oil shipments.
Commissioning of the new splitter is "99 percent" complete and an imminent handover to operator Qatargas is likely to see the plant start up "within the next two weeks," a Doha-based source, who declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak publicly, told Reuters.
Japan's Chiyoda Corp is building the refinery in a joint venture with Taiwan's CTCI Corp.
"We are at the final moment. There were no technical problems from our end," Chiyoda's general manager in Qatar, Toshiyuki Ito, told Reuters, but would not confirm a start-up date.
Qatari state-marketer Tasweeq withdrew offers for at least 1.5 million barrels of prompt November-loading DFC last week, traders with knowledge of the matter said, possibly indicating the splitter is likely to open imminently.
Initial offers for November-loading cargoes had indicated that the condensate splitter was more likely to start operations in November than October as the oil firm was seen reducing its November feedstock requirements by opting to sell prompt cargoes, traders said.
Tasweeq sold 2 million barrels of DFC for end-October loading prior to its offers for November-loading condensate supplies. (Reporting by Tom Finn in DOHA and Mark Tay in SINGAPORE; Editing by Susan Fenton)