London — More closures loom in Europe as refineries continue to face weak margins as demand is hit by renewed lockdowns.
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In the latest news, Petroineos is looking to mothball two units at its UK Grangemouth refinery.
** UK's Petroineos refinery will start consultation with employees regarding its proposal to reconfigure the Grangemouth refinery, it said Nov. 11. The company plans to mothball CDU1 and the FCC. The two units "have been closed throughout the COVID pandemic due to significantly reduced local and international demand for fuels." By mothballing them the company "will reduce future incurred costs associated with operating these two older plants". The company proposes a smaller refining operation at Grangemouth where it will retain 450 jobs.
** Galp said it expects its halted fuel production units at the smaller of its two Portuguese refineries in Porto to continue for most of the fourth quarter, CEO Carlos Gomes da Silva said Oct. 26. The units were halted for a second time this year on Oct. 10 due to the impact of COVID-19 on fuel demand and long inventories. The company also reported a refining margin of minus 70 cents/b in the second quarter due to weak distillates cracks.
** Spain's La Rabida will keep two units at the refinery -- Fuel Unit 1 and Vacuum Unit 2 -- offline once they conclude their maintenance in order to adapt to the current weak demand for refined products, it said Oct. 8. Cepsa said it was carrying out maintenance on one of the two crude distillation units at the site, without saying when it would return.
** Croatia's Rijeka refinery will optimize its operations from November "for a few months" and during that period will "perform regular technological activities at process units such as catalyst regeneration and preparation of these plants for the new processing cycle in 2021 through regular maintenance work," the company said late Oct. 7. Earlier local media reported that the refinery will temporarily halt production between November and January due to reduced demand caused by the spring lockdown and a weak tourist season
** Finland's Neste said on Oct. 22 that it is continuing to explore the possibility of shutting down operations at its Naantali refinery as part of a mulled restructuring of its refinery operations in the country. "We are exploring the shutdown of the refinery operations in Naantali and focusing the Naantali site on the terminal and harbor operations, as well as transforming the Porvoo refinery operations to co-processing renewable and circular raw materials," Neste said on Oct. 22. In 2017, Neste completed the integration of the Porvoo and Naantali refineries that now operate as one refinery with a total capacity of 13 million mt/year.
** Total said it would convert its French Grandpuits refinery "into a zero-crude platform". By 2024, the plant will focus on new industrial activities, including production of renewable diesel mostly for the aviation industry, production of bioplastics, plastics recycling and operation of two photovoltaic solar power plants. Crude oil refining will be discontinued in the first quarter of 2021 and storage of oil products will end in late 2023. Meanwhile, Total halted Nov. 16 the crude distillation unit at Grandpuits but the other units at the refinery remained in operation. The company said that it has decided to stop using the Ile-de-France pipeline (PLIF) that brings crude to its Grandpuits refinery from Le Havre. The decision has been taken to investigate indications of cracks, although no leak has been detected or reported. A source from the CGT union said that the refinery's CDU could be halted from Nov. 16 for about a month. Last year Grandpuits remained offline between late February and July after the pipeline that brings crude from Le Havre port leaked. This followed an earlier leak near Le Havre in 2014.
** Gunvor Group said Oct. 16 it would mothball its Antwerp refinery, but "will continue terminal activities, as well as further assess future development opportunities for the land and existing units." The refinery stopped crude processing at the end of May.
** Shell recently relaunched the sale of its Fredericia refinery in Denmark after suspending the sale in 2018.
** Total has agreed to sell its Lindsey refinery in the UK to fuel trading and marketing Prax Group, as the French oil major focuses on its integrated downstream assets and the coronavirus adds to the uncertainty over long-term demand for fuel.
** Spanish refiner Repsol took its fluid catalytic cracker at Corunna offline in April and had reported no change in the situation as of Oct. 2. At Spain's Bilbao the FCC was taken offline in April, and the company did not confirm its restart.
** Germany's Heide plant had "only slightly reduced its throughput" due to the end of the bitumen season, the refinery said Oct. 27. "In times of weak margins, this situation requires a special look at production that is still economical," the refinery said, adding it had achieved this by reducing the throughput slightly.
** Germany's Schwedt is still running at reduced runs, according to sources. Traders said the refinery had been running at around 80% since late September.
** Italy's Saras expects crude runs in Q4 at around 20 million barrels, with refining capacity running at about 70%-80% of the total. Should market conditions change, its Sarroch will react accordingly in order to maximize benefits.
** Turkey's Tupras has cut its expectations for 2020 in the light of changing market conditions due to COVID-19. Tupras said it was revising its anticipated 2020 production to 22 million mt from 24 million mt, with a capacity utilization of 75%-80%. Following its Q1 results, Tupras said it expected production for the year to be 28 million mt, but subsequently revised this down to 24 million mt. Tupras said it was also revising down its anticipated sales for 2020 25 million mt, to 23 million mt, having previously revised down from 29 million mt to 25 million mt.
** Romania's Rompetrol said that its Petromidia refinery processed 3.504 million mt of raw materials in January-September, down from 4.756 million mt in the year-ago period. The refinery stopped operations in March and April when it carried out a general turnaround. Its Vega refinery processed 265,000 mt of raw materials, down from 325,000 mt. Petromidia provides all the raw materials for Vega. The company said that its financial results declined "due to the influences generated by the new coronavirus, but also due to the unprecedented volatility in the oil market."
** Lukoil reported higher Q3 throughput at both its Russian and European refineries compared with Q2. At its European refineries, throughput was down 18% in the first nine months of the year at 15 million mt, due to planned maintenance at the Burgas and Zeeland refineries and optimization of processing at its European refineries in Q2 and Q3. Q3 throughput alone amounted to 4.6 million mt, and was 9.4% up on the quarter, mostly due "to partial recovery of processing" at the refineries in Bulgaria and Italy.
** French road fuel deliveries in October fell 6.2% year on year to 4.167 billion liters, with a 7% slump in diesel consumption compounded by a 3.7% drop in gasoline consumption, according to industry group UFIP on Nov. 16, quoting data from the country's oil industry committee CPDP. A second lockdown was imposed in France on Oct. 29 at midnight to control the second wave of coronavirus infections in the face of surging hospitalization numbers. Albeit less strict than the first lockdown in the spring -- schools and nurseries remain open -- this lockdown is to last at least until Dec.
** Turkey's diesel demand over Nov. 1-14 was 6.5% higher year on year at 760,923 million liters, according to energy ministry data. The rate of increase was up from 3.6% in October, 5.9% in September and 6.1% in August, but down on July (7.5%) and June (8.2%), following the steep fall in demand in May (minus 28%) when much of Turkey was still partially locked down. Gasoline demand over the first two weeks of November rose by 11% year on year to 100,036 million liters, with the rate on increase down from 13% in October and 19% in September. Gasoline demand in August was up only 8.1%, but rose by 25% in July, with demand for both months affected by the summer holiday season. The fluctuating of demand over the past few months appears to have been affected both by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent seesawing of the value of the Turkish lira against the US dollar.
** BP said Nov. 16 that it is investigating a leak of hydrogen fluoride at its Rotterdam refinery late Nov. 14 which resulted in one injury. "In response to the incident, our safety systems, emergency procedures and emergency support services were launched, the incident was under control by 3 am [Nov. 15]. At our Rotterdam refinery, we utilize water screens around the unit to control and minimize exposure, among other safety precautions," the company said. According to local media reports, hydrogen fluoride is used for the production of gasoline. It is typically used for the production of high-octane gasoline at alkylation units.
** UK chemicals company Ineos plans to develop and build renewable hydrogen capacity across Europe, it said Nov. 9. The company produces 300,000 mt/year of hydrogen as a co-product, mainly from producing chlorine and cracking gas and oil to make olefins and polymers. It also, however, has expertise in electrolysis, the technology gateway to renewable hydrogen production. The EU's Hydrogen Strategy outlines an infrastructure road map for deployment of at least 40 GW of electrolysis by 2030, producing up to 1 million mt of green hydrogen.
** Eni has completed maintenance at its Porto Marghera biodiesel refinery in Northern Italy, according to the Marghera municipal website. The company placed the Ecofining unit offline for the duration of upgrade work that started on Oct. 21 and was initially expected to last 13 days. The Porto Marghera biodiesel refinery is the world's first conversion of a conventional refinery to a biorefinery. It was reconfigured in 2014 to produce biodiesel and other biofuels such as bio-naphtha and bio-LPG.
NEW AND ONGOING MAINTENANCE, UPGRADES
New and revised entries
** Total's refinery in Antwerp has completed its maintenance but is not still back to full capacity, according to market sources. The maintenance in late September and the installations were planned to restart from Nov. 10, S&P Global Platts has reported previously. The turnaround involved increasing the efficiency of the furnace of one of the two CDUs. Works were planned for one of the two catalytic crackers.
** Gunvor said Nov. 10 that the turnaround at its Rotterdam plans is complete and the refinery is in start-up mode. Gunvor said June 23 that its Rotterdam refinery was undergoing a turnaround due to be completed in October. The company said at the end of March that it was delaying the turnaround due to the coronavirus pandemic.
** Turkey's Tupras confirmed in November that it was planning to go ahead with some refinery maintenance work this year having previously announced that all planned maintenance would be postponed to 2021. During Q4 work is planned on the Plt 5 crude and vacuum unit and the Plt 47 hydrocracker at the company's Izmit refinery, lasting for two weeks. Also planned is work on the U-4000 FCC unit at Izmir, expected to take six weeks, and on the Plt 100/1000 crude and vacuum unit at Batman slated to start in Q4 and continue for eight weeks, into Q1 2021. Work on the U 9200 CCR unit, the U 9600 isomerisation unit and the U 9900 MQD unit at Izmir and the Pt 6 Desulphurization unit at Izmit will go ahead in 2021 the company said, but did not specify which quarter.
** General maintenance at Germany's Leuna will be carried out in Q2 2021, although the exact timing is yet to be confirmed, the company said Oct. 19. The maintenance and an upgrade which had been scheduled for this autumn had been postponed "due to the ongoing pandemic and the resulting restrictions on travel and transport of goods, as well as the impact on international supply chains," the company said earlier this year. The maintenance had been planned to take placed over six weeks, S&P Global Platts reported previously. Total said in 2019 it would invest Eur150 million in the Leuna refinery over 2020-21 to reduce production of heavy products as demand decreased and increase production of methanol, a key feedstock for the chemical industry. The project will deepen the integration of refining and petrochemical operations and increase the competitiveness of the plant, Total said at the time. Methanol production will increase by 20% as a result of higher output from the visbreaker unit and an upgrade of the POX/methanol plant. Work was due to continue until 2021, with the bulk carried out during a major shutdown of the refinery in 2020, which will also cost around Eur150 million.
** The Godorf site of the Rheinland refinery is closing for full maintenance with the process of shutdown due to be complete by Nov. 5. Works will last several weeks. The refinery recently completed maintenance on the Wesseling site. The refinery consists of the Wesseling (south) and Godorf (north) sites.
** Shell's Pernis refinery in the Netherlands will start works on one unit from mid-October, it said Oct. 13. The works are expected to continue for around two to three months, traders said.
** Spain's La Rabida will keep two units at the refinery -- fuel unit 1 and vacuum unit 2 -- offline once they conclude their current maintenance in order to adapt to the current weak demand for refined products, it said Oct. 8. Cepsa told S&P Global Platts Sept. 30 that it was carrying out maintenance on one of the two crude distillation units at the site, without saying when it would return or whether other units were affected. However, the two units will not immediately return. Instead, the company said it will periodically re-evaluate the market condition to decide when to bring the units back online while it is starting temporary lay-off discussions with workers.
** Repsol said it was planning to extend a planned turnaround of its 1.83 million mt/year hydrocracker at Puertollano in November to carry out works on a number of other units, as had been reported by local newspaper Mi Ciudad Real. The halt will last about one month, Repsol also confirmed. The newspaper report said several units associated with the hydrocracker will be affected. These include the 1.6 million mt/year fluid catalytic cracker, which has been working at minimum levels due to pandemic restrictions on travel, the 3.9 million mt/year vacuum unit and the 1.4 million mt/year coker. The halt would also allow some maintenance work in crude unit 2 or the alkylation unit, which together could mean halting 80% of the refinery. The lubricants unit and petrochemical sites would retain normal activity, the report said.
** Croatia's Rijeka refinery will be optimizing its operations from November "for a few months" and during that period will "perform regular technological activities at process units such as catalyst regeneration and preparation of these plants for the new processing cycle in 2021 through regular maintenance work," the company said late Oct. 7. Earlier local media reported that the refinery will temporarily halt production between November and January due to reduced demand caused by the spring lockdown and a weak tourist season.
** Russian energy group Lukoil's ISAB refinery in Sicily will focus its two-month maintenance cycle starting on Oct. 15 on the cracking and the desulfurization plants in the South section of the refinery as well as other units, a source close to the refinery told S&P Global Platts Oct. 13. 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. The separate IGCC plant is connected to both plants. The maintenance will also involve some work on the North plant, though this will be limited compared with the South plant upgrades. The refinery will be offline for the entire period, the source said.
** Some units at the Scholven part of Germany's Gelsenkirchen refinery will halt for planned maintenance from mid-October, the refinery said. The maintenance, which had been initially planned for April, has been postponed due to the coronavirus lockdown. It is expected to last around eight weeks.
** API's refinery in the Italian coastal town of Falconara Marittima is placing its U2500 desulfurization unit offline for maintenance and upgrade works. The refinery went fully offline at the start of April after starting to wind down operations in March in a bid to offset a decline in demand for refined products in Italy caused by the coronavirus pandemic. It has since been restarted, and the plant carried out maintenance and upgrade works on its TK205 crude storage units in June. The Falconara refinery facility had only returned to full operations in March after a 40-day turnaround that began on Jan. 25.
** Two planned maintenances at the Castellon refinery is eastern Spain have been pushed back, with no fixed date for when they will now go ahead. The first was previously scheduled for May and to last two to three weeks, affecting two distillation units, the powerformer 1 and the HVN. A second maintenance, initially due for November for two to three weeks, affecting one conversion unit (treatment plant) and the 1.4 million mt/year coker, has been pushed back into 2021.
** France's Gonfreville is working at around 50% capacity after its CDU was damaged. Works to repair the crude distillation unit at the Gonfreville refinery which have been suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak have now resumed, according to market sources. Total said earlier the CDU, which was damaged in December following a fire at a pump feeding crude oil, will restart before the end of the year.
** Eni's Sannazzaro de Burgondi refinery in northern Italy started another cycle of maintenance and upgrade works, even as a decision on when to reactivate its Eni slurry technology (EST) unit, which has been offline since a 2016 fire, is still outstanding. No information was provided on which plants were involved in the maintenance and upgrade works, nor when the EST plant would be restarted. The works being carried out are not the series of works planned for the EST unit that had previously been suspended, the source said.
** 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.
New and revised entries
** Italy's Milazzo refinery will place its LC Finer unit offline when it carries out wide-scale maintenance work at the plant in the first quarter of 2021, a source close to the refinery said. No information was available on which other units would be involved in the upgrades or how long the works would last. The maintenance in question was originally scheduled for 2019 and has been postponed various times. Milazzo is also scheduled to carry out maintenance works on its diesel plants in the second quarter of 2021. Around half of the refinery's plants will be involved. The works were originally planned for October 2020 but were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent drop in demand for refined products, which led Milazzo to cancel all but necessary maintenance and investment works in 2020. Works would have included its turboexpander plant, according to sources close to the refinery. The maintenance will likely take place in April and May next year, according to one source. Another person close to the refinery said it would take place between the first and the second quarter of 2021 "as long as market conditions permit this."
** Valero said that it carried out FCC works at UK's Pembroke in Q2 which had been originally planned as part of a 2021 turnaround.
** 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.
** Lukoil's Neftochim refinery in Burgas, Bulgaria, will be carrying out major works in 2021, including atmospheric vacuum unit 1, atmospheric vacuum units 2, atmospheric vacuum distillation 2, FCC, hydrotreatment, hydrocracker, according to company tender documents. The refinery typically carries out works around February-March.
** Italy's Livorno will avoid all non-essential maintenance and investment as part of a plan to reduce coronavirus-related risks. As part of the decision, the refinery will postpone a planned extraordinary maintenance cycle scheduled for October to 2021, though it is not clear whether this will take place in the first few months of the year or in April-May. The October maintenance was originally scheduled to last about one and a half months and would have involved most of the refinery's main units as well as its storage plants.
** With its 2020 maintenance, Romania's Petromidia and the petrochemical division "will align with the new operating strategy, with a general turnaround scheduled for 4 years and technological shutdowns scheduled for 2 years," the company said.
** Finland's Neste said that its Porvoo refinery's major turnaround in 2020 is postponed to 2021 and would be carried in phases. The company had planned works for the second quarter of this year, but had to postpone them due to the coronavirus pandemic.
** Germany's Mineraloelraffinerie Oberrhein (Miro) will carry out a major turnaround in 2021. It will invest Eur300 million, with two-thirds going on new projects and a third for upgrading the existing plants during the turnaround.
** 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.
** 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.
** 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.
** Cepsa's San Roque has received a favorable environmental impact assessment for its Eur1 billion ($1.2 billion) "bottom of the barrel" project, which includes the construction of a new hydrocracker and the idling of the visbreaking unit, among other work, according to a publication in the country's official gazette, the Boletin Oficial del Estado, or BOE. The project has been delayed due to local objections which caused earthworks at the site to be halted in 2019 and then further delayed by pandemic-related measures in the country and other legal challenges. The project entails the construction of a new LC Fining hydrocracking unit which will provide 36,700 b/d of LC Fining technology and 27,600 b/d of isotreating, strengthening Cepsa's marine diesel and bunker fuel oil output, as well as a sulfur unit and new hydrogen unit. The new hydrocracker will produce lighter products by increasing the conversion factor and also boosting the output of gasoline blending components. The production of diesel should increase from 40% to 55% once the project is concluded, the company said previously. The overall crude processing capacity will not be altered, according to the BOE. No date has been announced for the start of the work, which was initially due to begin in 2019 and conclude in 2022. Separately, Cepsa will revamp Isomax, fluid catalytic cracker, alkylation units at San Roque and will construct a methylene unit (Sorbex II).
** Serbia's Pancevo had completed construction of its deep processing complex, according to media reports. The launch of the complex, which includes a delayed coker, will increase the depth of processing to 99.2%, boosting gasoline and diesel output and helping the refinery halt fuel oil output. It will allow the refinery to produce petroleum coke, which the country has so far imported. Separately Pancevo will upgrade the catalytic cracker, Gazprom Neft said previously. NIS, a subsidiary of Gazprom Neft, had signed a contract for developing the project with Lummus Technology, part of McDermott Group. The completion is earmarked for 2024. This 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.
** Bulgaria's Burgas refinery has awarded a contract to US Lummus Technology for a 280,000 mt/year polypropylene plant. The contract includes a technology license as well as as basic design engineering, training and services, and catalyst supply, Lummus said. "This award is the second significant polypropylene contract we've signed with Lukoil recently," said Leon de Bruyn, Lummus Technology's President and Chief Executive Officer in the statement. Lummus said it has earlier been awarded a contract for a propylene unit at Lukoil's Russian Kstovo refinery in Nizhny Novgorod.
** 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. The company confirmed in Oct. 2020 that it will continue "and if possible accelerate, work on our strategic Residue Upgrade project and the implementation of other capital projects that can be done only when the units are partially out of operation." Its Rijeka refinery will be offline for a few months from November. 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, subject to further investment decisions.
** Poland's PKN Orlen said Sept. 24 it has completed the Czech Crown 9.6 billion ($410 million) polyethylene 3 unit investment at its Litvinov refinery in the Czech Republic. The refinery's owners, Unipetrol, a 100%-owned PKN subsidiary, has now taken charge of the black polyethylene unit, the second part of the investment, PKN said in a statement. The first part, the natural polyethylene unit, was completed in April. The polyethylene 3 unit, which can produce 270,000 mt/year of high density polyethylene, will replace production of one of the two existing production units with a capacity of 120,000 mt/year. Litvinov's polyethylene capacity will increase from 320,000 mt/year to 470,000 mt/year as a result of the investment, PKN said. 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.
** PKN Orlen is holding talks with the Lithuanian government about it co-financing a bottom-of-the-barrel processing investment at the country's Orlen Lietuva refinery. "Without in-depth processing there will be no future for this refinery. With the bad macroeconomic environment and margins as low as they are now, if the refinery is not modern it has problems with efficiency," PKN CEO Daniel Obajtek told state news agency PAP Biznes. Obajtek said the investment would be PKN's largest in Lithuania and it would increase the refinery's diesel, gasoline and jet fuel yield by around 10 percentage points. Obajtek said that once a final investment decision was taken the project could be completed within three years.
** The industrial complex in Tarragona will adapt one of its units to manufacture advanced high resistance polypropylene with start-up in 2021, Repsol said. When operational, the plant will be the first of its kind in the Iberian peninsula to produce the highly specialized polymers for use in the automotive sector, Repsol said. At Spain's Cartagena, work restarted in September on a lubricants unit at the at the Ilboc plant alongside Korean partner SKSol, after being halted in March amid COVID-19 restrictions. The lubricants plant will see capacity increase 50% to 1.0 million mt/year when work is concluded, with no date supplied.
** The Kazakh-Romanian Energy Investment Fund (FIEKR) has signed an engineering, procurement and construction contract for Turkey's Calik Enerji to build a cogeneration plant at Romania's Petromidia refinery, Rompetrol said in a statement. Commissioning of the $148 million project is targeted for the first half of 2023. The new combined electricity and heat production plant will use natural gas as the main fuel. It will have capacity of 80 MW, of which 60-70 MW will fully cover the Petromidia plant's electricity needs with up to 20 MW used to heat water for the town of Navodari's heating system. Romania's Petromidia is also planning to build a diesel dewaxing unit "which will allow the refinery to significantly improve the process of obtaining diesel fuels in the wintertime," the company said in a statement. The project has estimated completion in September 2022. Separately, a second project is aimed at the increase by more than 30% of the production of polymers in the petrochemical division of Petromidia, which is "the sole producer in Romania in this field".
** Greece's Motor Oil Hellas said that its capital expenditure in H1 included the naphtha treatment complex, which has entered the construction phase in 2020 and is expected to be completed in Q1 2022.
** Poland's second largest refiner Grupa Lotos Gdansk refinery in H1 continued its Hydrogen recovery unit project, which is 99% complete, and will help increase the production of hydrogen, LPG and naphtha. However its commissioning date, previously planned for H12020 has been postponed to the second half of the year "due to difficulties related to the pandemic and technical issues". Furthermore, there is a risk of delayed launch of projects in pre-FID phase, such as the HBO (oil hydrocracker). Grupa Lotos is looking at developing a hydrocracker unit for the production of base oils.
** Valero said the cogen project at Pembroke, UK will be completed in 2021. It has previously said that the project had slowed down, "pushing out" the mechanical completion by six to nine months. In 2016, Valero submitted a planning application to build a 45 MW combined heat and power generation plant at Pembroke, which will provide power to the refinery and supplement its steam demand.
** PKN Orlen laid the foundation stone July 6 to mark the start of a Zloty 1 billion ($250 million) investment to build a visbreaking unit at its Plock refinery. The unit, which will increase gasoline and diesel yield at the refinery, is being built by a consortium of KTI Poland and IDS-BEU under a turnkey contract. It will be completed by the end of 2022. The company has said previously the visbreaker will allow the refinery to reduce fuel oil output and increase its production of distillates. The unit will have a capacity to produce 200,000 mt/year of diesel. Ongoing modernization of the hydrocracking and diesel hydrodesulfurization units at Plock will also increase the refinery's diesel production capacity. PKN Orlen, said it has purchased a license and basic design for the modernization of a hydrodesulfurization (HOG) unit to increase the production of high-margin products at its Plock refinery. PKN signed a contract to buy the license from Axens. The HOG unit at Plock was launched in 1999. The modernization will allow the unit to produce more diesel and gasoline.
** Planned maintenance and an upgrade at Germany's Leuna refinery this autumn has been postponed "due to the ongoing pandemic and the resulting restrictions on travel and transport of goods, as well as the impact on international supply chains", the company said. Work was also due to continue in 2021 and by the end of next year the project would be completed. Total said in 2019 that it would invest Eur150 million over 2020-2021 to reduce production of heavy products as demand decreases, and increase production of methanol, an important feedstock for the chemical industry.
** 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.
** 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, Izmit, Izmir and 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. 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.
** Bosnia's Brod refinery is offline while it is being reconstructed. A pipeline, 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 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.
** 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. Start-up was 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.
** 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 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.
Biofuel, hydrogen upgrades
New and revised entries
** Orsted and BP are to jointly develop a 50 MW renewable hydrogen project at BP's Lingen refinery in Emsland, northwest Germany, Orsted said. The project, expected to be operational in 2024, would comprise a 50 MW electrolyzer capable of generating 9,000 mt/year of hydrogen, 20% of the refinery's current fossil-based hydrogen consumption. The electrolyzer is expected to be powered by an Orsted North Sea offshore wind farm. The partners have a longer-term ambition to build more than 500 MW of renewable hydrogen capacity at Lingen, providing renewable hydrogen to meet all the refinery's hydrogen demand and provide feedstock for future synthetic fuel production.
** Spain's Repsol plans to build an advanced biofuels plant at its Cartagena refinery in Spain able to produce 250,000 mt/year of biofuels for aircraft, trucks and cars. Billed as Spain's first low-emissions, advanced biofuels plant, Repsol said the Eur188 million ($223 million) plant will be operational in 2023, producing biodiesel, biojet, bionaphtha and biopropane from recycled raw materials. Repsol said it had increased the biofuel content of its road fuels in recent years and in July produced the first batch of biojet for aviation in the Spanish market at its Puertollano refinery.
** The conversion of Preem Petroleum's Lysekil refinery near Brofjorden has begun, in a move that will make it the biggest producer of renewable fuels in Scandinavia, the company said in a statement on Oct. 23. Preem said in its latest update to the refinery's environmental permit that it will apply to establish the capacity for the large-scale production of renewable fuels at the refinery, which it estimated would reduce climate emissions by up to 1.7 million mt/year. In an initial phase, Preem plans to carry out a redevelopment of the existing Synsat plant, which currently produces environmental class 1 diesel. When the conversion is complete, the plant will have the capacity to process up to 40% of its renewable raw materials, with the ambition to reach higher levels in the long term. The latest development follows a statement made by the company in September that an upgrade of the conventional oil productions refinery had been abandoned. Preem was aiming to build a slurry hydrocracking plant that could convert fuel oil into sulfur-free gasoline and diesel.
** Croatia's INA has selected Axens Futurol ethanol technology for the "basic engineering design" of an advanced bioethanol production plant at Sisak.
** UK Humber refinery plans a capacity increase for its renewable diesel output in mid-2021, the company said. Humber can produce 1,000 b/d of renewable diesel, after starting production around a year ago, and will reach 4,000 b/d next year. It is processing used cooking oil in the cracker, it said during a Q2 conference call.
** Spanish integrated energy company Repsol said June 15 it will build a 10-MW, green-hydrogen plant which it will use to produce synthetic fuels in collaboration with Saudi Aramco at its Bilbao refinery. The plant is part of an Eur80-million decarbonization project that will also include a carbon-capture project and a fuel-from-waste plant, and should be completed by 2024.
** Five 2 MW PEM electrolyzers have been installed and testing has begun at Shell's Rheinland refinery in Germany, but delays to the Refhyne project are now anticipated due to coronavirus restrictions, UK hydrogen company ITM said in a trading update June 8. Germany's Rhineland has started the construction of a new hydrogen production plant, using electrolysis, at its Wesseling site. The investment project, due for completion in 2020, will generate hydrogen from electricity rather than natural gas. The 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.
** Germany's Heide refinery is looking to cut its carbon dioxide production for its industrial operations using grey hydrogen for refined products desulfurization, and from early 2019 green hydrogen has been added to the mix for feedstock purposes. "The goal is to have a 700 MW of electrolysis capacity installed by 2030, this would be enough to abate 1 million mt of CO2 per year by producing 100,000 mt of hydrogen...and this is only at our facility," said Wollschlaeger. To achieve its ambitions, Heide is part of the "Westkuste 100" consortium that includes EDF, Orsted, Stadtwerke Heide, Thuga and ThyssenKrupp Industrial Solutions, which have teamed up to advance the use of green hydrogen for industrial purposes.
The consortium submitted a proposal in early 2019 to the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy to seek funds for the project. The outcome is expected to be known by the middle to end of 2020.
** Gunvor is studying the potential installation of an HVO (hydrotreated vegetable oil) unit at the Rotterdam refinery.
** Preliminary work on 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.