HANOI, June 6 (Reuters) - Vietnam's second oil refinery will be fully operational by early August, a senior executive at the plant told Reuters on Wednesday, significantly reducing the country's reliance on refined product imports.
The 200,000-barrel-a-day (bpd) facility, owned by Nghi Son Refinery and Petrochemical LLC, is already running at 55 percent capacity and is undergoing a long start-up process, the executive told Reuters.
"The starting process is going smoothly without any technical problems," said the executive, who requested anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
The new refinery will process mostly crude oil imported from Kuwait. Vietnam is struggling to maintain its crude oil and gas output amid declining production from key fields and ongoing pressure from China over disputed areas in the South China Sea.
The $9 billion Nghi Son refinery, 260 km (160 miles) south of Hanoi, is 35.1 percent owned by Japan's Idemitsu Kosan Co, 35.1 percent by Kuwait Petroleum <IPO-KUWP.KW>, 25.1 percent by state-run PetroVietnam and 4.7 percent by Mitsui Chemicals Inc.
The company has no plans to use crude oil from other sources, he said, adding that the company will sell all of its gasoline, diesel products and liquefied petroleum gas in the local market, while other products, including petrochemicals, will be exported.
The company is still in the process of testing its jet fuel output and getting quality certificates, the executive said.
"We don't have a time frame for launching jet fuel to the market yet," he said.
Vietnam's first refinery, the 130,000-bpd Dung Quat plant, started up production in 2009. When fully operational, the Nghi Son plant will add to this output and help Vietnam meet 70 percent of its demand for fuel.
Vietnam imported 5.56 million tonnes of refined fuels in the first five months this year, up 11 percent from a year ago, according to the government's General Statistics Office.
The Nghi Son Refinery produced its first batches of gasoline and diesel last month.
(Reporting by Khanh Vu; Editing by James Pearson and Tom Hogue)