London — Portugal's Porto refinery has become the latest plant in Europe to close following demand destruction caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
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** Portugal's Galp said in a regulatory filing Dec. 21 it will discontinue its refining operations at the Porto refinery from 2021 and concentrate its core refining activities and future developments at its larger Sines refinery. Galp said it will focus on enhancing the resilience and competitiveness of the Sines site, with a view to improving efficiency and to integrate the production of advanced biofuels and other cleaner as well as more valuable products. The Matosinhos refinery, which came onstream in 1969, halted fuel production for a second time last year on Oct. 10 due to the impact of COVID-19 on fuel demand and long inventories.
** Total halted operations at its Donges refinery in France for economic reasons from Nov. 30 for the coming months. According to trading sources, the shutdown is expected to last around a month and the refinery is likely to restart in January.
** Total halted the crude distillation unit at Grandpuits Nov. 16 but the other units at the refinery remained in operation. The company 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. In September, Total announced that it would convert the refinery into a biofuels and plastics recycling complex, ending crude refining at the site in early 2021.
** UK's Petroineos refinery has started consultation with employees regarding its proposal 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." The company proposes a smaller refining operation at Grangemouth where it will retain 450 jobs.
** Cepsa's La Rabida refinery in Spain will keep two units -- Crude Unit 1 and Vacuum Unit 2 -- offline after maintenance in order to adapt to the current weak demand for refined products. 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." Local media reported that the refinery will temporarily halt production between November and January due to reduced demand.
** Finland's Neste will shut down its Naantali refinery by the end of March 2021 as part of its restructuring. Operations at its Porvoo refinery will be revamped to focus on co-processing renewable and circular raw materials, it added.
** Gunvor Group said 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 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.
** 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.
Separately, there was a short strike at France's Gravenchon refinery in late December. The company said that due to the strike the refinery has been running at reduced throughput.
Also in late December, some units were affected by a system failure at Germany's Burghausen refinery. Following system failures in the petrochemical section and subsequently at the hydrogenation units, there was increased flaring and the affected units were shut down but subsequently restarted. After the cause was identified, a gradual restart of operations commenced on the evening of Dec. 18. The ethylene plant has been in regular operation since Dec. 19 and on the morning of Dec. 21 the last of the affected systems was restarted, the company said.
Shell's Pernis refinery in the Netherlands reported flaring late Dec. 21 at a malfunctioning unit, which it did not specify. The refinery said it could not specify the duration of the flaring.
NEW AND ONGOING MAINTENANCE
New and revised entries
** Italy's Livorno has restarted as scheduled around mid December after completing maintenance and upgrade work on its thermo-electric unit, according to information provided by a company spokesperson. The maintenance, which began at the end of November, resulted in the plant's gasoline and diesel refining activities being placed offline, though lubricants production continued during the period. Livorno has a refining capacity of 84,000 b/d and also produces lubricants and specialties.
** The ISAB refinery in Sicily, which postponed its Dec. 15 scheduled restart after the completion of a two-month maintenance cycle that began on Oct. 15, may only go back online in April unless market conditions improve sooner, according to a source close to the refinery Jan. 4. In the past few weeks, sources have said that while it was unclear when exactly the plant would restart, its topping and IGCC (Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle) cogeneration unit in the southern section of the refinery could be kept offline until March 2021. The two months of maintenance and upgrade works carried out on the plant focused on the southern section of the refinery and included in-depth work on the refinery's IGCC, which generates electric energy and has a capacity of 549 MW. A new compressor plant was also added to the refinery to reduce the environmental impact of its activity. 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.
** Units affected by maintenance at the Scholven part of Germany's Gelsenkirchen refinery are gradually restarting from early January. as a result of the restart flaring could be expected starting from Jan.3. The maintenance started in from mid-October, the refinery has previously said. The maintenance, which had been initially planned for April, has been postponed due to the coronavirus lockdown. It was expected to last around eight weeks.
** API's refinery in the Italian coastal town of Falconara Marittima has completed works on its U2500 desulfurization unit and restarted it successfully after the maintenance and upgrade cycle, according to information provided by sources to S&P Global. The exact date of the start of the maintenance work has not been made public, nor has the duration of the works or the restart date of the unit. 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 carried out maintenance and upgrade works on its TK205 crude storage units in June.
** Following a closure of a unit at France's Lavera, there has been flaring, according to a company statement. Traders also reported an outage at the refinery although details have not been confirmed.
** Petronor said Dec. 11 it was to halt its N2 naphtha desulfurization unit in Plant 2, without saying how long the unit would be offline. The company halted its number 2 crude distillation on Nov. 20 in reaction to weaker market conditions.
** Czech Kralupy refinery is currently undergoing maintenance shutdown, the company said Dec. 10.
** Tupras will halt production at its Izmir refinery between Jan. 1 and Feb. 28 for maintenance, the company said in a disclosure to the Istanbul stock exchange. The company did not specify in the disclosure exactly what maintenance would be carried out. But in a teleconference presentation published following its third-quarter results, the company listed a number of planned maintenance projects that had been scheduled for Q4 2020 and all but one of which had been postponed to unspecified periods in 2021.
These included work on the U400 FCC unit, planned to take six weeks staring in Q4, as well as work on the U9200 CCR unit planned to take seven weeks, the U9600 Isomerisation unit planned to take eight weeks, and the U9900 MQD unit planned to take seven weeks. Tupras said that it did not anticipate any effect on its sales during the shutdown as it planned to compensate for lost production by utilizing its existing stocks and continuing production at its other three refineries.
** Turkey's Tupras confirmed in November that it was planning to go ahead with some refinery maintenance work in 2020 having previously announced that all planned maintenance would be postponed to 2021. Work was planned on the Plt 100/1000 crude and vacuum unit at Batman slated to start in Q4 and continue for eight weeks, into Q1 2021.
** 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.
** Spain's La Rabida will keep two units at the refinery -- crude 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.
** 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.
** 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 in december 2019.
** 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. The works being carried out are not the series of works planned for the EST unit that had previously been suspended.
** 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.
** 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.
** 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.
** 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.
** 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.
** 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.