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REFINERY NEWS ROUNDUP: Some maintenances in Europe complete

Some of the maintenance in Europe is completed with Germany's Leuna and Scholven and Switzerland's Cressier back from works.

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However, closures continue to remain in the focus.

** ExxonMobil has permanently shut down its Slagen refinery in Norway to convert the site into a fuel import terminal. The plant was shut during June. The company has said earlier it would close the refinery during this summer.

** Gunvor's Rotterdam refinery has shuttered its two crude processing units, one in 2019 and the other one in 2020, and is developing new processes around hydrogen and the coprocessing of vegetable oil.

** Gunvor's refinery in Antwerp is being mothballed, with terminal activities continuing at the site. Future development opportunities are being assessed.

** TotalEnergies said it would convert the Grandpuits refinery into a biofuel and plastics recycling complex, ending crude refining at the site in early 2021.

** Eni is evaluating the conversion of its Livorno refinery in northwest Italy into a biorefinery. Eni has already converted two of its Italian refineries and is looking to almost double its biorefining capacity to around 2 million mt/year by 2024, and expand this by at least five times by 2050, as part of a pledge to achieve complete carbon neutrality by 2050.

** Portugal's Galp said in April 2021 that the last units at its Porto refinery should be stopped at the end of the month and decommissioning will then start, to be followed by decontamination. In a regulatory filing Dec. 21, 2020, the company said it would discontinue refining operations at the Porto refinery from 2021 and concentrate its core refining activities and future developments at the larger Sines refinery. The site at Porto will remain a logistics hub, but the company will assess other ways to use the facility.

** Petroineos said its plan to transition the configuration of its UK Grangemouth refinery would be phased in during 2021. The company proposed a smaller refining operation at Grangemouth and plans to mothball the CDU1 and the FCC, two units that "have been closed throughout the COVID pandemic due to significantly reduced local and international demand for fuels."

** Finland's Neste said it had discontinued refining operations at its smaller Naantali refinery at the end of March 2021. With Naantali shut down, the company will focus the site on terminal and harbor operations.

** Romania's Petromidia refinery halted operations July 2 following a fire at a diesel hydrotreating unit (HPM). The refinery said an analysis would be carried out "for a clear picture and predictability in terms of restarting the refinery facilities." The company will continue to provide fuel for the Rompetrol retail stations in Romania and the Black Sea region.

Separately, Italian demand for refined oil products in June totaled 4.9 million mt, up 17% or 696,000 mt year on year, according to data from industry group Unione Energie per la Mobilita. "The month of June represents a return to what is almost normality," Unem said in the statement. Gasoline demand rose 22% on the year in June to 661,000 mt, reaching levels similar to those of June 2019, Unem said. Diesel demand, meanwhile, gained 17% year on year to 2.4 million mt, the Unem data showed.

In Spain, volumes of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel supplied from storage facilities to the domestic retail market during June reached their highest monthly total since the start of the pandemic as travel restrictions continued to ease, according to data from national fuel distributor Exolum. The gasoline volume supplied in June was 500,000 cu m (375,000 mt), an 11-month high, while for diesel it was 2.2 million cu m (1.9 million mt) -- the most since December 2020. Jet fuel was at 268,000 cu m (214,000 mt), the highest monthly volume since March 2020, the data showed.

In Hungary, demand for road fuel in the second quarter was up 17.5% year on year, despite lingering COVID-19 restrictions and near-record high retail prices, data from the Hungarian Petroleum Association (MASZ) showed. Gasoline consumption was up 18% year on year to 363 million liters, while diesel demand grew 17% to 595 million liters. Both are only slightly below pre-COVID peaks for the time of year.

In other news, Shell has reached an agreement with Alcmene for the sale of its 37.5% stake in Germany's Schwedt refinery. "The divestment is part of Shell's strategy to reduce its global refinery footprint to core sites integrated with the company's trading hubs, chemicals plants and marketing businesses," it said. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2021, "subject to partner rights and regulatory approval."

Alcmene is part of the privately owned energy holding company Liwathon Group.

Meanwhile, most companies reported higher utilization rates in the first half of the year.

Austria-based OMV reported utilization of 83% at its European refineries in H1, down 3 percentage points on the year yet "relatively resilient in light of the COVID-19 impact." It expects the utilization rates at its European refineries to remain at the 2020 level this year. Last year its refineries reported 86% utilization. Its refineries in Europe ran at 85% utilization in Q2, up from 81% in the year-ago quarter.

OMV Petrom said its Petrobrazi refinery operated at 93% utilization in H1 2021, compared with 92% in the year-ago period and "significantly above the European average". Its Q2 utilization was 91%, compared with 89% in Q2 20. The 2021 utilization rate is expected above 95% compared with 92% in 2020.

Poland's largest refiner PKN Orlen said July 29 that higher fuel demand and a lack of maintenance at its Czech plants saw it raise throughput in the second quarter by 10% year on year to 6.81 million mt, boosting sales by 11% to 5.8 million mt. Utilization of the company's refineries increased 7 percentage points to 78%, the company said in a Q2 results report.

Throughput at Plock fell 200,000 mt or 6% to 3.286 million mt as a result of maintenance on the CDU II and VI units, the II hydrogen plant and the metathesis unit.

Throughput at Orlen Lietuva in Lithuania fell by 120,000 mt, down 1%, to 1.827 million mt and utilization was down 1 percentage point.

Throughput at the Czech Unipetrol refineries rose 108% to 1.615 million mt and utilization was up 38 percentage points thanks to no cyclical maintenance at Litvinov this year and the delayed restart of Kralupy in March 2020 following its shutdown, as well as higher fuel demand.

Sales volumes were lifted by the easing of pandemic restrictions with 11% growth in Poland, a 34% rise in the Czech Republic and a 1% increase in Lithuania.

Italian energy group Eni said that throughput at its Italian refineries in the second quarter rose 27% year on year to 4 million mt. In the rest of the world it achieved 26% higher throughput at 2.75 million mt. The higher throughput was attributed to "a lower impact of the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the second quarter 2020 which was negatively affected by the full lockdown of the economy, partly offset by a depressed refining scenario. Throughputs elsewhere increased mainly at the ADNOC plants, where, in the year-ago quarter, the performance was negatively affected by a prolonged plant standstill."In H1, its throughput in Italy was 9% higher on the year at 7.85 million mt, and 27% higher in the rest of the world at 5.3 million mt.

The company reported 75% average utilization rate in the second quarter, up from 60% last year, and 73% in H1, up from 67%.

Bio throughput in the second quarter fell 23% to 145,000 mt and was 18% down in H1 at 308,000 mt. Utilization rate was 57% in Q2 down form 66% last year and 61% in H1, down form 67%.

The Q2 throughput was affected by "a prolonged standstill of the Venice plant." Eni's benchmark refining margin in the second quarter was minus $0.40/b , down from $2.30/b last year and was minus $0.50/ in H1, down from $2.90/b.

Italy's Sarroch refinery saw crude runs amounting to 24.6 million barrels (3.4 million mt) in the second quarter, up from 16.7 million barrels in Q2 2020, owner Saras said in its Q2 financial results statement. For full-year 2021, the refinery expects to see refinery runs of 95.3 million-98.3 million barrels, the company said.

Galp said July 12 that crude throughput at its Portuguese refineries increased 57% year on year to 21 million barrels of oil equivalent per day in the second quarter. This was down from 26.9 million boe/d processed in Q2 2019, prior to pandemic restrictions, reflecting the halt of operations at the smaller Matosinhos refinery at the end of 2020. Throughput at Sines increased 7% quarter on quarter, from 19.7 million boe/d in Q1 2021, the company reported in preliminary figures. Full data is due to be reported July 26.

The rising throughput at Sines has been driven not only by rising volumes domestically but also by a widening refining margin.

However, France's TotalEnergies reported a sharp fall in its refinery throughput in the first half of 2021 as margins stayed "depressed", although its downstream division performed better due to a strong showing by its petrochemicals segment. The energy major's refining throughput across the world averaged 1.109 million b/d in the first half of 2021, down 18% on the year, according to the company's latest results statement released on July 29. Refining throughput at the company's French refineries averaged as low as 131,000 b/d in H1 2021, down 43% on the year. In the second quarter, TotalEnergies' French refineries processed 148,000 b/d, down 28% on the year, whereas across the world its refineries processed 1.070 million b/d, down 14% from Q2 2020.

The drop was attributed to the prolonged voluntary economic shutdown of the Donges refinery given the low European margins.

Refinery runs fell due to the major shutdown at the Leuna refinery in Germany, the shutdown of Grandpuits in Q1, which will be converted to a zero-oil platform, and the sale of the Lindsey refinery in the UK.

The decrease was partly offset by the restart of Feyzin and the distillation unit at the Gonfreville refinery in Normandy, which had been halted following a fire at the end of 2019. Feyzin restarted in Q2, following a major shutdown in 2020.

TotalEnergies halted operations at Donges on Nov. 30, 2020, with restart expected in 2022, while Gonfreville restarted its crude distillation unit in June, S&P Global Platts reported earlier. Grandpuits has been fully offline since January.

NEW AND ONGOING MAINTENANCE

Refinery
Capacity
Country
Owner
Unit
Duration
Sannazzaro
190,000
Italy
Eni
EST
2020
Castellon
110,000
Spain
BP
part
2020/2021
Leuna
230,000
Germany
Total
full
Back
Tenerife
90,000
Spain
Cepsa
offline
Since 2014
La Rabida
220,000
Spain
Cepsa
part
Oct
Sarroch
300,000
Italy
Saras
part
Mar
Bratislava
122,000
Slovakia
MOL
part
2020
Duna
165,000
Hungary
MOL
part
2020
ISAB
321,000
Italy
Lukoil
Part
Back
Haifa
197,000
Israel
Bazan
Part
Back
Cressier
68,000
Switzerland
Varo
Full
Back
Gelsenkirchen
240,000
Germany
BP
Part
Back
Fos
136,000
France
ExxonMobil
Part
Jun
Livorno
84,000
Italy
Eni
Part
Back
Batman
28,000
Turkey
Tupras
Full
June
Bilbao
220,000
Spain
Repsol
Part
June
Petromidia
100,000
Romania
KMG
Full
July
Livorno
84,000
Italy
Eni
Part
Sep
Fawley
270,000
UK
ExxonMobil
Part
June

FUTURE MAINTENANCE

Lavera
210,000
France
Petroineos
part
Sep
Burgas
190,000
Bulgaria
Lukoil
full
2021
Petrobrazi
90,000
Romania
OMV
full
2022
Gothenburg
125,000
Sweden
Preem
full
2021
Puertollano
150,000
Spain
Repsol
part
2020
Gdansk
210,000
Poland
Lotos
full
2022
Holborn
105,000
Germany
Oilinvest
full
2023
Sarpom
180,000
Italy
Joint
full
2021
Porvoo
250,000
Finland
Neste Oil
full
2021
Petromidia
114,000
Romania
Rompetrol
full
2024
Litvinov
108,000
Czech
Unipetrol
full
2024
Feyzin
109,000
France
Total
mothball
2021
Burghausen
76,000
Germany
OMV
part
2022
Ingolstadt
110,000
Germany
Gunvor
part
2022
Haifa
197,000
Israel
Bazan
part
2022
Burghausen
76,000
Germany
OMV
full
Q3,2022

Near-term maintenance

New and revised entries

** Italy's Livorno plans to carry out maintenance on its lubricant units in September, sources close to the matter said.

** Italy's Sannazzaro de Burgondi refinery has been taken partially offline for large-scale maintenance works. Maintenance and upgrade works are being carried out on the slurry technology (EST) unit, which was taken offline following a fire in 2016, as well as on the refinery's hydrocracking unit and the visbreaking plant. All units are expected to be kept offline for some 18 months. Eni's EST plant had originally been scheduled to restart last year but was kept offline after a nationwide slump in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

** The FCC at Portugal's Sines is running at full capacity after suffering production issues during the second quarter, Galp management said July 26. The unit was previously reported offline in February by market sources, but was back online in April, the company confirmed at the time, without adding details.

** UK's Fawley refinery is undergoing planned partial works. Works on some of the units started in late May. The works were expected to take around nine weeks.

** Spain's Castellon started maintenance in May, according to industry sources. BP Espana declined to comment. The refinery was due to carry out work in 2021 on the two distillation units, the powerformer, the HVN, the treatment plant and the 1.4 million mt/year coker.

** Spain's Puertollano restarted the crude distillation unit June 21 after a near three-month pause amid travel restrictions impacting demand and margins. A planned maintenance on the lubricant and chemical units was also concluded at the time while work in the petrochemical complex included a modification to the olefins cracker to cut CO2 emissions by 68,000 mt/y, with the steam turbine getting replaced by an electric motor. There were also upgrades to the polypropylene unit, the low density polyethylene, EVA, polyols and butadiene units.

** All units at Spain's A Coruna the refinery are operating normally after the conclusion of a planned turnaround June 17, which included work to reduce 7,600 mt of CO2 emissions per year.

** Spain's Bilbao will restart in October its number 2 crude distillation unit which was halted on Nov. 20, 2020 in reaction to weaker market conditions. The halt, which included the visbreaking unit, meant the refinery's crude distillation was reduced by 40%. "The recovery in the market and mobility mean the plants can be restarted from October 1," the company said. The restart will mean that the 364 workers (around one third of the plant) that were temporarily laid off in May will gradually resume their posts over the coming weeks, the company said. The company said in late July it will restart the hydrogen unit, having previously pushed back a restart from maintenance for "production adjustments." The unit was taken offline July 3. Earlier in July it restarted its G3 diesel desulfurization unit in Plant 1.

** Germany's Leuna refinery had returned to operations, but was not running at full capacity due to technical issues, trading sources said July 27. In early July, Russian crude oil pipeline operator Transneft said the plant had delayed its return from maintenance until July 15. Transneft is supplying crude via its Druzhba pipeline system to Leuna. The delay was further prolonged July 19, according to trading sources. The refinery started general maintenance in early May, set to last around eight weeks.

** BP said July 27 maintenance was complete at the Scholven part of its Gelsenkirchen refinery in Germany and it was expecting "normal production" there soon. This followed an earlier local radio report that Scholven was restarting units. The plant started major works from May 15, the company said May 11. Some units at the plant were due to be halted for about eight weeks. During the turnarounds more than 50 columns, over 25 reactors and 12 furnaces were to be checked, along with heat exchangers, pipelines and valves. The refinery consists of the Horst and Scholven sites, with the latter accounting for around two-thirds of total capacity.

** The continuous catalytic reformer unit at Israel's Haifa refinery, which was stopped following a breakdown in early May, is back in operation, the company said early July. The repairs had been expected to last several weeks, the company said previously. The Jerusalem Post reported that the CCR unit had been halted following a fire on May 1.

** Varo Energy's Cressier refinery in Switzerland is back online after completing maintenance, the company said July 16. The refinery started works in early May.

** The CR40 Gofiner unit and the PR1 Cumene catalyst unit at the ISAB refinery in Sicily are back online following maintenance works, according to information provided to S&P Global by sources close to the refinery in early July. The CR40 Gofiner unit breaks up heavy hydrocarbon molecules into lighter fractions using heat and catalysts, while the PR1 Cumene catalyst unit converts benzene and propylene to cumene. Both units are in the northern section of the refinery, and both had undergone maintenance earlier this year, though information on when the upgrades started and on their duration was not available. The company was not immediately available to comment. The refinery is currently online after both its north and south plants were returned to full operation earlier this year following widescale maintenance that started in October. Its IGCC Cogen unit has been kept offline since October, initially for maintenance and upgrade works and now as a result of "market conditions and demand dynamics," one of the sources said without providing further information. ISAB is made up of two refineries connected by a pipeline. The north and south plants operate as a single refinery after the two separate units were integrated in 2007.

Existing entries

** Romania's Petromidia refinery halted operations earlier July 2 following a fire at a diesel hydrotreating unit (HPM). The refinery said an analysis will be carried out "for a clear picture and predictability in terms of restarting the refinery facilities."

** Some maintenance operations are ongoing at ExxonMobil's French refinery Fos-sur-Mer, the company confirmed mid-June. During the process of units shutdown, which started June 11 and was set to last until June 17, there could be cases of flaring, the local Maritima site quoted the refinery as saying.

** Turkey's main refiner Tupras has announced the temporary suspension of production at its 28,000 b/d Batman refinery from June 3 due to a "decrease in regional demand for bitumen products," which constitute the bulk of the refinery's output, and in order to "manage increased stocks more optimally." Tupras said that it anticipated restarting production by end July but also that the restart would be dependent on regional bitumen demand returning to normal.

** Tupras announced in its Q1 report that the revamp of the FCC unit at Izmit that started in Q1 and was planned to take 30 weeks was ongoing. Planned for Q4 this year is periodic maintenance on the vacuum unit and lubes unit at Izmir, both scheduled to take six weeks.

** MOL will continue with smaller shutdowns of various units at the Danube and Bratislava refineries throughout the second and third quarters of 2021. MOL has said it is planning a "more intense" maintenance schedule this year than in 2020, when such activities were kept to a minimum in an effort to control capital expenditures.

** Italy's Sarroch refinery is undergoing partial works, according to market sources. The company declined to comment but in its latest financial report in November 2020 said that it would lower maintenance costs over the next two years as all but essential upgrades are delayed beyond 2022.

** 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.

Future

New and revised entries

** OMV is planning a turnaround at its Burghausen refinery in Germany during the third quarter of 2022. During this time, the entire refinery will be at a standstill, including the butadiene plant. All plants are checked, cleaned, maintained and new plants or plant components are integrated," a company source said July 26. "We are expanding and modernizing the steam cracker in Burghausen, Germany, which will increase the capacities for ethylene and propylene production. Essential integration works for this project will take place during the turnaround," a source at the company said.

** Sweden's Gothenburg refinery plans to carry out maintenance in Q4 2021.

Existing entries

** Israel's Bazan said it has decided to delay the scheduled maintenance of the FCC at Haifa from Q2 2021 to the first half of 2022 when there will be also maintenance at all the Carmel Olefin facilities.

** Gunvor Group said that its Ingolstadt refinery in Germany will undertake projects focused on heating systems and exchangers "to continue improving its energy efficiency and reduce its emissions." A planned turnaround in 2023 will allow additional reductions, by carrying out projects on the FCC.

** Poland's second-largest refiner Grupa Lotos will carry the second part of the maintenance at its Gdansk refinery in the spring of 2022.

** Lukoil's Neftochim refinery in Burgas, Bulgaria, which had scheduled out major works for this year, has postponed them, according to sources close to the matter. The refinery typically carries out works in February and March but has deferred them to later in 2021, possibly during the second half of the year. The works are expected to include atmospheric vacuum unit 1, atmospheric vacuum unit 2, atmospheric vacuum distillation 2, FCC, hydrotreatment, hydrocracker, according to company tender documents.

** France's Lavera refinery is planning works at its FCC unit in September.

** Czech Unipetrol said that following the turnaround at its Litvinov plant in Q2'20 the refinery has prepared production for a new four-year cycle. Thus the next turnaround is due in 2024.

** With its 2020 maintenance, Romania's Petromidia and the petrochemical division "will align with the new operating strategy, with a general turnaround scheduled for four years and technological shutdowns scheduled for two years," the company said.

** Two months of maintenance at the Sarpom refinery in Trecate, Italy, originally scheduled for October 2019 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.

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

** Total's Feyzin is considering mothballing a visbreaker unit around 2021 as demand for heavy fuel is gradually declining and the unit 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.