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The Arab Petroleum Pipelines Company, known as SUMED, is a joint venture formed in 1977 between Egyptian General Petroleum, Saudi Arabian Oil Company, three Kuwaiti companies and Qatar Petroleum. Today IPIC holds a 14.8% stake in the company. SUMED owns two parallel 42-inch-diameter oil pipelines that run for 320 kilometres across Egypt from the Gulf of Suez to the Mediterranean. They provide an economic alternative to the Suez Canal for oil being transported from the Arabian Gulf region to the Mediterranean, especially in light of the inability of the Canal to accommodate the largest supertankers.
SUMED provides the most reliable, secure and economic route for Arab Gulf crude oil movements to the consuming refining centres in the West. Over the years, it has gained market share to the point today where almost 80% of the oil shipped from the Arabian Gulf to Europe passes through the pipelines, with major oil companies using SUMED as their sole route to Europe.
Crude oil is transported through the two pipelines, starting from the Ain Sukhna terminal to the Sidi Kerir terminal, crossing the River Nile south of Cairo where a pressure relief station preserves the pipelines from any over-pressure. The oil is dispatched by two pumping stations consisting of 10 electrically driven eight-megawatt centrifugal pumps, each capable of pumping oil at a flow rate of up to 9,300 m3/hr per pipeline. The crude continues streaming through the Dahshour intermediate boosting station which consists of six pumps, each driven by a 26-megawatt gas turbine.
The pipeline is automatically and remotely controlled from the dispatching centre located at Ain Sukhna through a state-of-the-art SCADA system connected to all sites via a dedicated digital microwave link, with a hot stand-by from Dahshour station. All parameters of the pipeline are also monitored from SUMED headquarters at Alexandria, where the batching operation schedule is coordinated with pipeline users.
Being only a few days away from refining centres in Europe, using SUMED saves refineries the capital cost of building storage tanks or maintaining high inventories to guarantee smooth operations. SUMED has built two large storage tank farms, one at each terminal, for handling various types of crudes transported, while maintaining proper segregation.