Quality, Standards, and the Petrochemical Industry

The Quality Control Department, Petro Rabigh

Rabigh Refining and Petrochemical Company (Petro Rabigh) is a joint project between Saudi Aramco and Japan’s Sumitomo Chemical Company. It was founded in 2005 and is
located by the Red Sea in Rabigh City, Saudi Arabia.

Petro Rabigh refines 400,000 crude oil barrels per day. The company produces petroleum products such as naphtha, kerosene, gasoline, jet fuel, diesel, and fuel oil. In addition, Petro Rabigh processes 1.6 million tons of ethane gas per year to produce 5 million tons of varying petrochemical products. Such products include ethylene, propylene, polypropylene, polyethylene, ethylene propylene rubber, poly methyl methacrylate, and polyamide 6.

The Petro Rabigh complex has 37 production plants producing more than 25 petroleum and petrochemical products. This abundance of refined and petrochemical products requires well-equipped and advanced technology laboratories to produce high-quality products to meet worldwide product specifications.

In a world that is moving progressively towards a sustainable economy, Petro Rabigh endeavors to achieve this goal by committing to manufacture optimal products sustainably.

As part of exceeding expectations in meeting this goal, the company adheres to world-class technical standards. ASTM International is a major partner, providing Petro Rabigh with insight into achieving sustainable operations.

Customer service lies at the heart of Petro Rabigh’s core values. In the world of oil and gas, where there is much competition, the company has established laboratories that are equipped with the latest analytical technology, leading to customer satisfaction. Some of the equipment utilized in Petro Rabigh laboratories includes X-ray fluorescence, chromatography, distillation, spectrometry, rheology, and physical properties of polymers. The laboratory provides support to all production plants with an analysis workload of more than 200,000 samples, performing more than 1.2 million tests on an annual basis. Additionally, it provides final certification for all of the refinery, monomer, and polymer products. ASTM plays a major role in the continuous success of Petro Rabigh laboratories and in accomplishing its customer service goals.

ASTM is the core provider of technical standards used by Petro Rabigh, with more than 50 ASTM procedures used by its laboratories. Such procedures are used to ensure the critical quality parameters of various products. One example is the freezing point of aviation fuels (automatic phase transition method) (D5972), which determines whether a product can be utilized in aircraft that help safely transport humans around the globe. Usage of a faulty product in this industry can lead to disasters and loss of life, making test accuracy crucial. Therefore, standardization such as that provided by ASTM is essential. There are many other examples of the critical importance of standardizing laboratory procedures that assist in making the world a safer place.

Furthermore, Petro Rabigh participates annually in the ASTM PTP (Proficiency Testing Program), which is used as a statistical measurement tool and a benchmarking tool with other laboratories worldwide. This gives the company insight as to its level of test accuracy among some of the best laboratories around the globe.

Petro Rabigh is now actively working to participate in and become active in ASTM’s technical committees. This will create opportunities for practitioners to improve their performance through the development of new skills, interactions with field experts, and exposure to new experiences. This increases the likelihood of producing laboratory data with greater accuracy, in turn improving customer satisfaction.

In the contemporary world, the desire for increased convenience is constant. As such, the level of customer satisfaction expected by consumers is continuously increasing. To meet consumer expectations, companies need to develop and maintain links with the highest standards in the world. ASTM provides such standardization, making Petro Rabigh’s connection with ASTM greatly advantageous.

ASTM Standards Used by Petro Rabigh Laboratory:

  • Test methods for rubber—viscosity, stress relaxation, and pre-vulcanization characteristics (Mooney viscometer) (D1646)
  • Test methods for density and specific gravity (relative density) of plastics by displacement (D792)
  • Test method for melt flow rates of thermoplastics by extrusion plastometer (D1238)
  • Test methods for rubber—determination of ethylene units in ethylene-propylene copolymers (EPM) and in ethylene-propylene-diene terpolymers (EPDM) by infrared spectrometry (D3900)
  • Test method for color of clear liquids (platinum-cobalt scale) (D1209)
  • Test method for acidity in volatile solvents and chemical intermediates used in paint, varnish, lacquer, and related products (D1613)
  • Test methods for rubber, raw—determination of 5-ethylidenenorbornene (ENB) or dicyclopentadiene (DCPD) in ethylene-propylene-diene (EPDM) terpolymers (D6047)
  • Test method for trace impurities in monocyclic aromatic hydrocarbons by gas chromatography and effective carbon number (D7504) ■

Company Snapshot

  • Rabigh Refining & Petro Chemical Company (Petro Rabigh)
  • Company Headquarters: Rabigh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • Petro Rabigh is a Saudi-based company that conducts two main activities: refining and petrochemical production. The two activities are fully integrated to maximize profit and minimize cost by recovering and converting low-value products into higher margin products.
  • Number of staff: 3000+ employees (Laboratory: 144)
  • Trading area: Global
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