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REFINERY NEWS ROUNDUP: Refineries in Europe delay maintenance, cut runs

  • Author
  • Elza Turner
  • Editor
  • Jonathan Loades-Carter
  • Commodity
  • Oil
  • Topic
  • Coronavirus and Commodities

European oil refineries were ramping up precautionary measures as the coronavirus pandemic spreads around the continent and forces national lockdowns.

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Initially refiners were putting off run cuts because the recent sharp fall in crude prices has supported margins. But one crude trader said: "What margin exists does not matter if there is not a buyer for products." Some also brought forward their planned maintenance due to lower demand. Shell's Pernis refinery in Rotterdam is likely to advance its works to April from May, according to trading sources. Romania's Petromidia started its maintenance in March.

However as the outbreak progressed and countries were increasingly in lockdown, refineries had decided to delay maintenance plans in order to deal with the demand slowdown due to COVID-19. Finland's Neste said planned major maintenance at its Porvoo refinery will be delayed and only "the most business critical maintenance works and regulatory inspections" will be carried out between April and June. The company, who said its primary objective "is to ensure the health and safety of its employees," will finalize the rest of the turnaround in 2021.

Similarly, planned maintenance at France's Feyzin refinery, which started in February, had also been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, a source with knowledge of the matter said.

Last week Italy's Sannazzaro delayed all non-essential works despite planning a large-scale maintenance from mid-March. The deferral of maintenance plans had largely been done to avoid the presence of too many people at the site. The originally planned maintenance at Sannazzaro would have added 1,300-1,400 workers at the site, according to a refinery source. Other refineries, such as Taranto, were slow restarting after maintenance.

Meanwhile, refineries were accelerating throughput cuts and reducing their demand for crude oil, which is now going mostly into storage, as a way to offset the impact of a slowdown in product demand. Some refineries in the Mediterranean had reduced throughput to around 20%-30% of capacity, traders said. In Northwest Europe gasoline production had been cut to a minimum.

ExxonMobil's French downstream subsidiary Esso SAF said Monday that throughput at its two French refineries, Gravenchon and Fos, had been reduced "to adapt to the decreasing French demand during the COVID-19 pandemic."

Production was down at two other French refineries due to technical problems, according to market sources. Operations at Total's Grandpuits refinery, which experienced a technical glitch earlier this month, were still affected, while repairs on a CDU that went offline at Gonfreville in mid-December following a fire had been halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, with only a few units that produce road fuels still in operation.

Refineries in Germany and the ARA region had also been grappling with the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. ExxonMobil, which operates refineries in Rotterdam and Antwerp, said it remained in operation "with our critical staff to be able to deliver energy for transportation, heating and power generation as well as the production of products required for our everyday life."

Greece's Motor Oil Hellas said that, although it expected the coronavirus outbreak to affect its financial results, the impact was still not clear. MOH said in its 2019 financial report that "a decrease in the volume of sales combined with a tightening of the sector margins will have an impact" on its financial results but "at the present time the extent of this impact cannot be quantified as it undoubtedly will be correlated with the time duration required for normal conditions to be restored worldwide." The company, which operates the Corinth refinery, said "it has taken all necessary measures with regard to its workforce health protection and, to the extent this is feasible, the uninterrupted continuation of its production activities."

In other news, ExxonMobil's French downstream subsidiary Esso SAF said Wednesday its French refineries processed 15.9 million mt of crude in 2019, up from 15.3 million mt in 2018. The company operates Port Jerome-Gravenchon and Fos-sur-Mer. Gravenchon processed 10.1 million mt of crude and Fos 5.8 million mt. Gravenchon operated at 76.1% utilization rate in 2019 whereas Fos operated at 84.2% utilization. Gravenchon produced record volumes of bitumen and Fos record volumes of diesel.



--Greece's Motor Oil Hellas said its major maintenance for this year had been completed. It had works on its hydrocracker in January and February and works on one of its two CDUs in February, the company said during an investor presentation. Its Corinth refinery reduced its processed volumes last year due to FCC maintenance which lasted 20 days in September and 20 days in October, as well as some works in the second quarter and December.

--The Wesseling part of the Rhineland refinery will carry out planned maintenance between March 30-April 3, it said on its site. The 327,000 b/d refinery consists of the Wesseling site in the south and Godorf in the north.

--Planned maintenance at France's Feyzin refinery was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a source with knowledge of the matter said. The petrochemical part of the plant was operating normally, the source said. Works at Feyzin started on February 14 and were due to last around seven weeks, Total said previously.

--Operations at the Grandpuits refinery, which experienced a technical glitch earlier in March, are still affected, the source said.

--Repairs on a CDU that went offline at Gonfreville in mid-December following a fire had been halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, with only a few units that produce road fuels still in operation, a source said. Total said previously that the CDU, which was damaged in December following a fire at a pump feeding crude oil, will restart before the end of the year.

--API's 85,000 b/d refinery in the central Italian coastal town of Falconara Marittima reduced production levels due to slumping demand amid a nationwide lockdown on all but essential business activities, a source close to the refinery told S&P Global Platts. Trading sources also said the refinery had reduced output shortly after coming back from maintenance due to the coronavirus pandemic. The refinery earlier this month returned to full operations after completing a restart following a 40-day turnaround that began on January 25. The maintenance and upgrades carried out during the turnaround -- the facility's regular five-year outage -- involved all of the refinery's main units.

--Sonatrach's Augusta refinery, Sicily, had routine maintenance scheduled for its reformer in the next few months involving the planned substitution of the unit's catalyzers, sources close to the refinery told Platts. The Augusta refinery's throughput levels are unchanged despite Italy's escalating coronavirus epidemic over the past few weeks, the sources said. The refinery was not operating at maximum capacity prior to the coronavirus outbreak and it had retained its operations largely unchanged throughout this period, a source said.

--Italy's Taranto refinery, which was shut late February for scheduled maintenance and an upgrade lasting approximately four weeks, was still restarting its operations, a source close to the refinery said.

--Eni's Sannazzaro de Burgondi refinery in Northern Italy was undergoing maintenance started in early March involving "units internal to the refinery," an Eni spokesperson said. In line with the government decree aimed at combating the spread of the coronavirus, all non-essential work, such as the Eni slurry technology unit maintenance, had been suspended, the spokesperson said. Sources close to the refinery said previously that most of the works had been halted and the refinery had been running at 20%. However, Eni denied this, adding that while the refinery is only partly operating, runs were above 20%. It also said delivery of products was proceeding. The refinery had planned to undergo maintenance including a large portion of the plant as well as restart Sannazzaro's slurry technology unit which had been offline since a fire in 2016, a source said. The refinery's EST unit was supposed to go back online after repair and maintenance work planned through to the end of March, according to the original plans, the source said. These plans had now been delayed and it was not yet clear when it would be restarted.

--Maintenance at Germany's Ingolstadt will end on March 28, a refinery source said. It was due to take place between March 10-21. The refinery had taken precautions against the coronavirus outbreak, which included separating the workers, and had no cases of coronavirus on the site.

--Neste said its Porvoo refinery's major turnaround in 2020 would now be delayed due to the coronavirus situation and only critical maintenance work could be carried out over April-June. The turnaround was originally scheduled for the second quarter and was to have taken about 11 weeks to complete. Neste said the government had declared a state of emergency in Finland due to the outbreak. The refiner said the turnaround would need to be carried out in phases. "Based on the current estimate, only the most business critical maintenance work and regulatory inspections can be carried out in April-June 2020, instead of the planned major turnaround," it said. "Regarding the rest of the maintenance work and investments, the planning of the turnaround will be restarted. The new execution schedule will be defined by the end of Q3 2020."

--Russian energy group Lukoil's ISAB refinery in Sicily, which had planned to carry out maintenance and upgrades in March-April, may delay the start of works by a few weeks, a source close to the plant said. The refinery's operations had been largely unaffected so far by the coronavirus crisis, according to the source. The southern plant was operating as usual, while the north plant's FCC unit was not working at full capacity, the source said, without giving a specific reason.


--Romania's Petromidia is carrying out its scheduled maintenance between March 13 and April 30. Separately, the Vega speciality site will also reduce runs for a series of turnaround works due to the reduction of feedstocks delivered from Petromidia.

--The FCC at Italy's Milazzo refinery on Sicily, which has been offline recently due to a glitch, is currently in the process of restart, a source close to the refinery said. The source did not indicate what the issue was or whether it was related to the maintenance on the unit. Traders reported earlier that the unit was not operational. The FCC was taken offline in October for works, but was restarted around mid January. The refinery was not available for comment. Eni noted in its Q4 report "an upset at the Milazzo refinery". The Milazzo refinery output is unaffected by lockdown measures introduced by the Italian government aimed at containing the spread of Covid-19, according to information provided by a separate source.

--The Sarpom refinery in Trecate, Italy is undergoing works to its cogen electricity generation unit for an undetermined duration, according to a person close to the plant. The maintenance and upgrade works are expected to last a "short" period, the person said, though no information was provided on an exact restart date. The Trecate refinery is currently running its operations as usual and has been largely unaffected by additional coronavirus-prevention measures introduced in Italy recently, the person added.

--Pernis is likely to start scheduled maintenance in April, earlier than planned, market sources said. The company has said previously the refinery was preparing for a major turnaround that will include several units, and will start May 4 and last through June. Pernis -- the largest refinery in Europe, with around 60 units including two CDUs -- carried out major works on 13 units last February and March.

--Italy's Sarroch refinery in Sardinia started a scheduled heavy maintenance cycle in early March that will put the plant offline for around two months as upgrades are carried out. Sarroch's fluid catalytic cracker, alkylation unit and Topping 1 plant will carry out works usually carried out every six years between the first and the second quarter of the year. In addition, the refinery plans to also carry out ordinary maintenance on its MHC2 unit, as well as its Visbreaking plant. The refinery's U400 and U500 units will also undergo upgrades, although it is not clear when this will occur. Sarroch also plans to carry out a planned 10-year turnaround on its IGCC in 2021.

--Greek refiner Hellenic will carry out works on its Aspropyrgos refinery in Q3 2020, the company said.

--CDU 1 at Gunvor Rotterdam refinery is due back online shortly, according to trading sources. The second CDU is expected to be offline for works until around mid-May. Gunvor halted CDU 1 at its Rotterdam refinery in November for economic reasons and also to prepare for an upcoming turnaround in March 2020, it said previously. The company was not available for comment. The refinery has 38,000 b/d and 50,000 b/d CDU units.

--The Netherlands' Zeeland refinery in Flushing is expected to start its planned maintenance around May, according to sources. During the maintenance it is expected to complete the upgrade of its hydrocracker. The refinery received last summer the third reactor for the hydrocracker's expansion. It started work in June 2018 on the expansion which includes adding a third reactor. The reactor will be connected to the existing installation in 2020.

--Lukoil's Neftochim refinery in Burgas, Bulgaria, is planning partial works in March, according to trading sources and company tender documents. The refinery is planning a major turnaround in 2021. The refinery typically carries out works around February-March.

--Turkey's Izmir refinery in Aliaga has reduced its buying of Siberian Light crude for March processing, trading sources said. In its latest financial report, Tupras said that work on the crude unit at Izmir, which started late last year, was set to continue for six weeks into Q1. Separately, the refinery plans works on the continuous catalytic reformer for three weeks in Q1 and seven weeks in Q4, on the FCC unit for six weeks in Q1, on the isomerization unit for eight weeks in Q4 and on the MQD diesel desulfurization unit for seven weeks in Q4. Tupras said in an investor presentation that three of its four refineries are planning works over the course of 2020. Work on the crude oil and vacuum unit at Batman is set to last five weeks over Q1 and Q2 and work on the desulfurizer at Izmit will last seven weeks over the fourth quarter.

--Petroineos' Lavera refinery in France will undergo maintenance in March, trading sources said.

--Croatia's Rijeka refinery is currently undergoing partial works, according to market sources. The plant's operator, Hungary's MOL, said it was planning only small-scale maintenance across its refineries in the rest of 2020, once an ongoing turnaround at its Rijeka refinery is completed before the end of the first quarter.

--Germany's Bayernoil is carrying out works at its Neustadt site in March. The works are set to last between March 2 and April 6, the company said. Gradual shutdown started from February 25. Start-up operations are planned to start from March 26. Bayernoil consists of the Vohburg and Neustadt sites, which are closely interconnected. The refinery was taken offline for several months following an explosion at a unit at the Vohburg site and a subsequent fire on September 1, 2018. The Vohburg plant restart lasted between May and November 2019.

--Portugal's Galp Energia has started work on its Sines refinery aimed at helping the company reach its target of $1/b in extra margin by the end of the first half of 2020 when work is concluded, CEO Carlos Gomes da Silva said. The Sines refinery has scheduled regular maintenance activity for the first half of 2020 at its 43,000 b/d hydrocracker unit, which should last for 40-50 days, the company previously said.

--Planned maintenance is currently underway on several units at the Fawley refinery and the petrochemical site near Southampton, the company said. Works began on February 8 and are due to be completed in March.

--Spain's Castellon has two planned maintenance periods during 2020. The first, scheduled for May will last two to three weeks and affect two distillation units, the Powerformer 1 and the HVN. In November, a second maintenance is scheduled for two to three weeks, affecting one conversion unit (treatment plant) and the 1.4 million mt/year coker.

--Repsol's Coruna started a programmed halt in early January that will run to the end of March and will include the finalization of three CO2 emission reduction projects at the 1.7 million cu m/yr fluid catalytic cracker, among other work. Repsol will invest Eur64 million in the work. The work will mean halting six of the refinery's conversion units one by one. Project G-52 will be directed towards energy efficiency and CO2 reduction, while G-53 will reduce the atmospheric particle emissions from the unit. At the same time, project G-54 will involve the installation of a new compressor in the gas recovery unit and the substitution of steam turbines for electric motors in both that unit and the FCC.

--The Canary Islands' only refinery on Tenerife will be permanently closed in the long term. There has been no production since 2014. Cepsa will install some logistics and storage facilities at the site, amid a wider regeneration project.



--The next large-scale maintenance at France's Grandpuits will be held in 2021, the refinery said. The works will include cleaning and repair of units, as well as works to improve performance. Works are planned to take place in Q1,2021, Total said.

--Neste said its Porvoo refinery's major turnaround in 2020 would now be delayed due to the coronavirus situation and only critical maintenance work could be carried out over April-June. "The rest of the turnaround work is expected to be finalized in 2021," Neste added.


--Germany's Mineraloelraffinerie Oberrhein (Miro) will carry out a major turnaround in 2021. It will invest Eur300 million ($332.6 million), with two-thirds going on new projects and a third for upgrading the existing plants during the turnaround.

--Lukoil's Neftochim refinery in Burgas, Bulgaria, is planning a major turnaround in 2021. The refinery typically carries out works around February-March.

--Two months of maintenance at the Sarpom refinery in Trecate, Italy, originally scheduled for October have been pushed back to 2021. Details on which units at the refinery will be upgraded as part of the maintenance -- of the kind needed every 3-4 years -- had yet to emerge.

--The Holborn refinery near Hamburg, northern Germany, plans its next turnaround in 2023. Its previous maintenance was in the autumn of 2018. The refinery carries out major works every five years.

--The next major maintenance at Poland's Gdansk is planned for spring 2021.

--Repsol's refinery at Puertollano in central Spain will carry out an upgrade of its olefins unit as part of planned maintenance of the cracker and chemical derivative plants at the end of 2020.

--Total will invest Eur150 million ($164 million) at its Leuna refinery in Germany. The investment into an upgrade project aims to reduce the production of heavy products and increase the production of methanol, which is an important feedstock for the chemical industry. This will deepen the integration of the refinery and the petrochemical operations. Work will continue until 2021, with the major part done in the 2020 major shutdown of the refinery.

--The next major turnaround at Preem's Gothenburg refinery in Sweden will be in 2021.

--Romania's Petrobrazi will undergo its next big turnaround in 2022.



--A new diesel hydrodesulfurization unit at France's Donges was expected to come online in 2023, Total said. Construction of the HDT-VGO units, which had been awarded to Kinetics Technology, will go ahead alongside a rail bypass which was the main requirement for the refinery's upgrade to proceed. Kinetics Technology said it had been awarded the contract for building the 40,000 b/d hydrotreater. The French government, local authorities, railway operator SNCF and Total signed a memorandum of intent in 2016 to build the railroad track bypassing the Donges refinery. Total said previously that, following the bypass agreement, it would proceed with the planned upgrade. The bypass will be ready in 2022.

--Greece's Motor Oil Hellas said that in 2020 it expected high capital expenditure "as the project of the new naphtha treatment complex [total budget Eur310 million] has already entered the construction phase." MOH said in 2019 that the new complex, which will contribute to increased production of gasoline, kerosene and hydrogen, is scheduled for completion in 2021. In January, the company awarded an EPC contract to TechnipFMC for the construction of a new naphtha treatment complex at its Corinth refinery, according to a TechnipFMC statement. The 22,000 b/d complex comprises a naphtha hydrotreater, a platformer and an isomerization unit, the statement said.


--Turkish refiner Tupras' upgrade plans for its four refineries include a number of new units as well as works for modernizing existing ones. The company has opened an EPC tender valued at around $400 million for the construction of new sulfur units at its three main refineries, the 227,000 b/d Izmit, 239,000 b/d Izmir and 108,000 b/d Kirikkale. Tupras has also signed a $66 million tender for the revamp of the FCC unit at Izmit, which will include the installation of flue gas treatment and energy back recovery systems. Installation work is set to start this year and complete in 2021. Work had already started on a $3.9 million modernization of the PLT-7 LPG Merox unit at Izmir designed to reduce sulfur content from 50 ppm to 30 ppm, to meet new emissions standards. Work on the project began last year and is expected to be completed this year. Further upgrades planned at Izmir include a $25 million project to increase the capacity of the CCR U-9200 Platformer Unit from 160 cu m/hour to 225 cu m/hour, as well as a $69 million project to revamp the FCC unit and install flue gas treatment and energy recovery systems.

--Croatia's INA has selected Axens Futurol ethanol technology for the "basic engineering design" of an advanced bioethanol production plant at Sisak. "Choosing the technology and signing the contract for basic engineering design for the advanced bioethanol plant is an important step towards the final investment decision," Stjepan Nikolic, Operating Director of Refining and Marketing, INA, said in a statement. Axens' Futurol technology would enable INA to produce 55,000 mt, equivalent to 70 million liters of advanced ethanol, the statement said. In December, Hungary MOL's Croatian affiliate INA made a final investment decision to carry out a residue upgrade project at the Rijeka refinery. The project includes building a delayed coker. MOL said the Sisak refinery will be converted into a bitumen production site and logistics hub. The facility may also produce lubricants and bio-fuel components too, subject to further investment decisions.

--Poland's second largest refiner Grupa Lotos said that it discontinued the production of high-sulfur fuel oil thanks to the completion of the refinery's EFRA modernization program with the startup of the delayed coking unit in December. The key elements of the EFRA project are the coking complex, comprising the delayed coking unit, coker naphtha hydrotreating unit, and coke storage and logistics facility. Other new units are the hydrogen generation unit, hydrowax vacuum distillation unit, and the oxygen generation unit. Many existing units have also been upgraded and have increased production capacities. The EFRA units will turn out approximately 900,000 mt of high-margin fuels annually without the need to increase crude throughput levels. Lotos said the separate modernization of the hydrogen recovery unit to increase the production of hydrogen, LPG and naphtha is scheduled to be completed in the first half of this year. It is also looking at developing a hydrocracker unit for the production of base oils.

-- An expansion of Preem's Lysekil refinery near Brofjorden, Sweden, is pending upon decision of the Land and environment court of appeal as well as the government, according to a report by Radio Sweden. The potential increase of carbon emissions could have an impact on the final decision. Separately, Swedish refiner Preem is "evaluating a potential investment in a residue hydrocracking plant" at the Lysekil refinery.

--Unipetrol will build a pyrolytic unit for waste-plastic processing at its plant in Litvinov. In it, it will be looking into chemical plastic recycling and the possibility of implementing it in standard production in the next three years. Separately, McDermott International has been awarded a contract for engineering, procurement and construction management services for the upgrade of the hydrocracker at Czech Litvinov refinery. The completion is expected for Q2 2020.

--PKN had signed an agreement with KTI Poland and IDS-BUD for the design, delivery and building of a visbreaker at its Plock refinery. The project, set to be completed by the end of 2022, will have a capacity to produce 200,000 mt/year of diesel, CEO Daniel Obajtek said. Obajtek said PKN's ongoing modernization of the hydrocracking and diesel hydrodesulfurization units at Plock will also increase the refinery's diesel production capacity by 250,000 mt/year. The modernization was expected to be completed by the end of this year.

--Germany's Burghausen refinery is planning to commission a new ISO C4 system for the production of high purity isobutane in September.

--Serbia's Pancevo will upgrade the catalytic cracker, Gazprom Neft said. NIS, a subsidiary of Gazprom Neft, has signed a contract for developing the project with Lummus Technology, part of McDermott Group. The completion is earmarked for 2024. It is part of the refinery's modernization, ongoing since 2009. Within the same project a unit will be built for the production of high octane gasoline components. The deep processing complex, part of the second modernization phase, also under Lummus project, is in the final stages of construction. The launch of the complex, which includes a delayed coker and will increase the depth of processing to 99.2% and increase gasoline and diesel output, will help the refinery halt fuel oil output.

--Repsol has not yet confirmed if it had started work on a lubricants unit at the Cartagena refinery Ilboc plant alongside South Korean partner SKSol, after the environmental go-ahead was received at the end of November from the regional government. It will invest Eur300 million over the next four years increasing the capacity of the lubricants unit and increasing production of second generation biofuels.

--Gunvor is studying the potential installation of an HVO (hydrotreated vegetable oil) at the Rotterdam refinery.

--Repsol's Coruna will shut the calcination unit at the start of 2020 due to technological obsolescence. During the course of 2020, a new distillation unit will be installed to produce polymer grade propylene. The unit should come online by the end of 2020.

--Bosnia's Brod refinery will start production from the middle of 2020 by which time its reconstruction will be completed. The refinery is currently being reconstructed. A pipeline, currently being built to supply it with natural gas to fuel its internal processes, is expected to be ready from Q3 2020. The refinery suspended its operations in 2019 for an upgrade and to prepare for the use of natural gas. The gas will replace fuel oil as a power source for the refinery processes.

--Varo Energy's Cressier refinery in Switzerland is currently installing a new column at the crude distillation unit which will allow it to reduce CO2 emissions but also to expand the scope of its light products yield. The column will start operations in the second quarter of 2020.

--Upgrade work to increase San Roque's refining margin, and construct a new hydrocracker, has been halted by local government, Cepsa said. The San Roque Council ordered earthworks at the site to be halted, affecting Cepsa's work on its "Bottom of the Barrel" project. The company plans to construct a hydrocracker at the site. The upgrades are targeted for completion by 2022. Separately, Cepsa will revamp Isomax, fluid catalytic cracker, alkylation units at San Roque and will construct a methylene unit (Sorbex II).

--Germany's Schwedt is upgrading its aromatics complex.

--The Netherlands' Zeeland refinery has had the third reactor for the hydrocracker's expansion delivered. The refinery started work mid-2018 on an expansion of the hydrocracker, by working to add the third reactor. The reactor will be connected to the existing installation in 2020.

--Germany's Rhineland has started the construction of a new hydrogen production plant, using electrolysis, at its Wesseling site. The Eur16 million investment project, due for completion in 2020, will generate hydrogen from electricity rather than natural gas, and thus also contribute to reduced CO2 emissions. It will produce up to 1,300 mt/year hydrogen when operating at peak rates. The 327,000 b/d refinery consists of the Wesseling (south) and Godorf (north) sites. Separately, the refinery has received permission to start construction of a new power plant at Godorf. The new plant is scheduled to go on stream in 2021. As part of the modernization, Shell is converting the power plant from oil to gas.

--ExxonMobil said it has "made a final investment decision to expand" the Fawley refinery in the UK to increase production of ULSD by 45%, or 38,000 b/d. The more than $1 billion investment includes a hydrotreater to remove sulfur from diesel, supported by a hydrogen plant. The construction, subject to a local planning approval, was set to begin in late 2019 with start-up expected in 2021.

--Russian Lukoil plans to invest in its ISAB refinery in southern Italy and has also dropped plans announced in 2017 to sell the plant having not received suitable offers. Lukoil will invest $60 million in upgrades, including two hydrodesulfurization units.

--Cepsa said it will carry out upgrades to its aromax and hydrocracker units at Huelva. It is also carrying out an aromatics optimization project at the refinery.

--Total is considering building intermediate feedstock desulfurization units and a hydrogen unit at France's Donges, but the investment depends on rerouting a railroad track that currently crosses the refinery.

--Israel's Haifa District Court has rejected an appeal by Haifa municipality along with six other neighboring communities and environmental groups against the proposed expansion of the Bazan refinery.

--Total's Feyzin is considering mothballing a visbreaker unit around 2021 as demand for heavy fuel is gradually declining and the unit currently works on average no more than three days a month. As a result of the mothballing seven people would lose their jobs, but would be offered other jobs within the organization, the company said.



--Dutch Hes International (former Hestya Energy) aims to start operations at the LSFO plant at the currently closed Wilhelmshaven refinery in Germany in Q1 2020, it said. The Netherlands-based company had previously said it would operate the VDU unit under a tolling agreement. According to traders, the vacuum distillation unit will be used for producing low sulfur fuel oil to meet the 2020 International Maritime Organization requirement for low sulfur bunker fuel. ConocoPhillips sold the facility on Germany's North Sea coast to Hestya in 2011. The refinery has been idle since October 2009 when it was mothballed on poor margins after a maintenance program was completed on the site.

--Preliminary work for Estonia's new refinery has started, with an agreement signed between Eesti Energia and Viry Keemia Group with Italian company KT Kinetics Technology. The preliminary project is due to be completed in the summer of 2020, "after which the main project will be decided," according to Eesti Energia. The refinery will process 1.6 million mt/year shale oil and produce 1.5 million mt/year products. It is aimed to be completed in 2024 and produce naphtha, gasoil and ULSFO.

--Turkey's Ersan Petrol plans to start construction of its 1.4 million mt/year Nazli refinery at Kahramanmaras in southeast Turkey in mid-2020, with the plant expected to begin operations in less than four years, company owner Ecvet Sayer said.

--Azerbaijani state oil company Socar is considering the development of a second refinery in Turkey, in addition to its existing 214,000 b/d Star refinery at Aliaga on Turkey's central Aegean coast.