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Refinery news roundup: European maintenance picks up

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Fresh work is scheduled in Germany and Switzerland, with refinery maintenance also building up in the Mediterranean.

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Separately, Norwegian state-controlled petroleum group Statoil has said that it will change its name to Equinor to reflect the realities of its broadening energy portfolio and production base in addition to oil and gas.

Stavanger-based Statoil said in a statement its board was proposing the new name to support the company's strategy and development as a broader energy company focused on lower-carbon and renewable sources. The new name will be proposed to shareholders in a resolution to the annual general meeting May 15.

Statoil said the name Equinor was created by combining "equi", the starting point for words such as equal, equality and equilibrium, and "nor", underscoring its Norwegian origins. -- The Bayernoil refinery in southern Germany has planned maintenance between February 26 and March 16. The work is being carried out at the Vohburg and Neustadt sites.

-- All 25 units at Plant 2 of Germany's Miro refinery have been carrying out a large-scale maintenance, the first in six years, from the middle of February. Work began on February 15 and is set to last for at least four weeks with the refinery expected to restart before Easter. -- Germany's Heide is expected to carry out scheduled maintenance, starting in March and lasting until May.

-- Essar Oil UK's Stanlow refinery is currently undergoing a planned turnaround, part of which is also an upgrade, aimed at increasing processing capacity to 75 million barrels/year from 68 million barrels/year, expected to be completed in March. -- Varo Energy's Cressier refinery in Switzerland, which carried out a planned shutdown from mid-February to mid-March, is now back on line.

-- Spain's Puertollano refinery is undergoing a major turnaround from the end of January. As part of the maintenance work on the conversion units, Repsol will carry out work on the thermal insulation of one of the vacuum unit's (55,000 b/d) furnaces, as well as modifying some of the equipment in place at the head of crude distillation unit No. 2. The work also includes the FCC (38,900 b/d) and the coker (24,000 b/d). The turnaround should be concluded around March 20. The company previously said it expected the work to conclude at the end of March.



-- INA plans maintenance work at its Rijeka refinery in Croatia, trading sources said. The company declined to comment. MOL said it plans minor maintenance at Rijeka for Q1 as well as for Q4.

-- MOL is planning smaller-scale maintenance at the Duna (Danube) and Bratislava refineries stretching from late first-quarter 2018 to the early part of the second quarter.

-- The Kralupy refinery in the Czech Republic is set to shut down for planned maintenance starting toward the end of the first quarter, owner Unipetrol said. The works are set to last for approximately two months.

--The Milazzo refinery has completed maintenance and upgrades on plants including one of its topping units (two CDUs at 168,000 b/d and 134,000 b/d). The refinery will also carry out maintenance on its gasoline plants between October and November, during which time it will be offline for a few weeks.

-- Repsol's A Coruna has started planned maintenance work from early February on three of the refinery's 49 units -- the platforming 2 (820,000 mt/year), vacuum unit 1 (1.5 million mt/year) and kerosene treatment unit (415,000 mt/year). The work will go on until mid-March, during which time none of the three units will be operational, while others will be functioning normally. Coruna has no further maintenance planned in 2018.

-- The Neftochim refinery in Burgas is planning maintenance in March, trading sources said. Works on the residue hydrocracker (50,000 b/d) are expected to be part of the maintenance.

-- Finland's Neste is to implement "several scheduled unit turnarounds" on its oil products refining capacity during the spring and autumn this year. One of the units included in the spring maintenance program will be the Porvoo refinery's 44,600 b/d FCC, a trader said.

-- Poland's Plock refinery is planned to carry out works in the spring involving a CDU, FCC (28,000 b/d), reformer (44,300 b/d) and one HDS (hydrodesulfurization) unit.

-- Tupras said the CDU unit in its Izmir refinery will be offline for the first 11-13 weeks of 2018, according to a presentation given in a teleconference. The CDU was offline for part of the fourth quarter of 2017. Tupras said the revamp of the Izmir refinery Plt 7000 crude oil unit was responsible for crude oil capacity utilization falling from 107.5% in Q3 to 89.7% in Q4, with total capacity utilization falling from 110.6% to 94.6% and production falling from 7.7 million mt to 6.3 million mt over the same period. The company said that even with the Izmir shutdown it expected to process 26.8 million mt of crude in 2018, at a capacity utilization of 95.4%, with total throughput reaching 29.4 million mt, at a capacity utilization of 104.6%. The Izmir maintenance had resulted in less HSFO coming out of Aliaga, traders said. The refinery typically exports a Handysize cargo of HSFO from Aliaga every 10 days or so but volumes dropped significantly in the fourth quarter of 2017. While normal flow was expected to resume in April, Tupras recently issued a sell tender for HSFO out of Aliaga for early March loading. -- Spain's Tarragona refinery will undergo some maintenance in the second quarter. This would involve a shutdown of the hydrocracker (40,900 b/d) and a catalyst change, Repsol said. There is no 2018 maintenance planned at Cartagena.

-- The CDU (207,100 b/d) at Lavera in France is expected to go offline around mid-March for unplanned maintenance, most likely until the end of the month.

-- Germany's Gelsenkirchen started maintenance on some units at the Scholven plant in early March. The refinery consists of the Horst and Scholven sites, with Horst representing around a third of the capacity.

-- French Port Jerome-Gravenchon started planned maintenance on "some of its units and associated operations" in early March.

-- The 50,000 b/d fluid catalytic cracker unit at Italy's Augusta refinery in Sicily has been halted following a fire in early March, the company said. According to market sources, the unit could remain offline for up to three months.

-- Italian refiner Saras has wide-ranging maintenance plans for the first half of this year, it said in its fourth-quarter report, with work due to be carried out on CDU units T1, T2 and RT2, vacuum distillation unit V2, the visbreaker and mild hydrocracking unit 2. In the first quarter of this year, there was also maintenance on the North Plant. In the third quarter, no major maintenance is planned at the refinery on the island of Sardinia, while in the fourth quarter, the continuous catalytic cracker will undergo maintenance, Saras said. Saras is also currently evaluating the possibility of carrying out a full-scale revamp of its visbreaking unit in 2018.

-- BP Rotterdam is set to undergo partial maintenance from March and has already halted a crude distillation unit, according to trading source. The company declined to comment.

-- BP's refinery in Lingen, Germany, is expected to carry out works in April, according to trading sources. The extent or duration of the works were not confirmed. The company declined to comment.

-- Swedish refiner Preem AB reported lower throughput in the fourth quarter of 2017 following maintenance at its Gothenburg refinery adding that more maintenance was to come in the first quarter. The company said that in early March it decided to move maintenance work on selected units, mainly the isocracker unit and fluid catalytic cracker, planned for April to March. It did not specify where this work would be but traders said maintenance is affecting the Lysekil refinery near Brofjorden, where there is also CDU and VDU maintenance in Q1. "These maintenance activities are progressing well, and the plan is to have the units back in operation with products to tank from the isocracker on March 18, and products to tank from the FCC on March 22," Preem said.


FUTURE


-- Italy's Taranto refinery is scheduled to go offline in May for work to allow the plant to refine crude from the Tempa Rossa oil field in southern Basilicata, which is set to start production in 2018.

-- Germany's Holborn refinery, near Hamburg, is planning its next major turnaround in the autumn of 2018. It carries out major work every five years.

-- Norway's Kalundborg plans partial maintenance in May and September. Separately, the refinery was not offering low sulfur fuel oil due to a unit being offline, trading sources said. In 2017, the refinery was also absent from the LSFO market for several months, which traders attributed to the visbreaker being offline for economic reasons.

-- The EST unit at Italy's Sannazzaro refinery, which has been offline since a fire in December 2016, is expected to restart at the end of 2018.

-- The next large-scale maintenance at Italy's Milazzo facility is planned for 2019.

-- The next major turnaround at Sweden's Lysekil will be in autumn 2019.

-- The next major maintenance at the Netherlands' Zeeland will be in 2020.

-- Major maintenance work is planned at the Orlen Lietuva refinery in Lithuania in 2018, owner PKN Orlen said, adding that this will nevertheless be "in a smaller range" than work that took place in 2017. The refinery carried out maintenance in the first quarter of 2017 when its throughput fell 8% on the year.

-- Romania's Petrobrazi will undergo a six-week full-site turnaround in the second quarter of 2018.

-- The next major maintenance at France's Gonfreville is planned for 2019. In March 2018, a major maintenance will mostly involve units at the petrochemical plant.

-- Italy's Saras plans large-scale maintenance in 2020, carried out in a six-year turnaround cycle. In the summer of 2021, Saras will carry out maintenance on its IGCC plants, which are required to undergo large maintenance cycles every 10 years.


UPGRADES


-- ExxonMobil said it expects the new delayed coker at Antwerp "to be fully operational in 2018." The company also said the startup, earmarked for this year, is a complex process "and can take several months." -- Two refineries in Rotterdam -- ExxonMobil's and Shell's Pernis -- are working on upgrades. Pernis said in early March a new unit is currently being prepared for startup and existing installations are in the process of being adapted. It did not specify the unit but the refinery is in the process of building a solvent deasphalter, due to be completed this year.

-- Poland's Lotos said the EFRA project at Gdansk was 89.9% complete at the end of 2017 and will enter testing at the end of Q2 into the start of Q3. The start of testing, following the completion of construction, should start "around the turn of the second and third quarters," CEO Marcin Jastrzebski told a news conference. 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.

-- Gazprom Neft has started construction of a delayed coker at its Pancevo refinery, with a target date for completion of 2019. The delayed coker will have 2,000 mt/day capacity and will help increase the depth of processing to 99.2% and diesel production by more than 38%. The refinery will start producing coke, currently not produced in Serbia.

-- The Netherlands' Zeeland is starting works on an expansion of the hydrocracker, due for completion in 2020. The unit, which processes heavy vacuum gasoil into diesel and jet fuel, already has two reactors, and the addition of a third will increase its efficiency.

-- Shell is looking into building a solvent de-asphalter plant at Wesseling, at the Rhineland refinery, which will enable it to desulfurize and further process heavy residues into lighter products such as heating oil. In addition, Shell and ITM Power said they will build a hydrogen production plant at Wesseling, using electrolysis, the largest of its kind in the world. The plant is due to be in operation in 2020.

-- The revamp of the vacuum distillation unit at Spain's Castellon refinery is on track to be completed by the summer this year, a spokesman for the company told S&P Global Platts. The upgrade, which should cost around Eur100 million ($124 million) will enable the refinery to increase fuel oil conversion capacity by around 10%, the company previously announced. The new VDU will result in increased output of diesel and fuel oil and increase the utilization rates of the vacuum unit and coker.

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

-- Cepsa is due to carry out upgrades to the 2.1 million mt/year hydrocracker and FCC units at La Rabida (Huelva) in Spain.

-- Croatia's INA has been building a delayed coker at Rijeka, due for completion in 2021. Meanwhile, it emerged that the company is working on organizational changes for its two refineries, Rijeka and Sisak, which include the shutdown of the Sisak FCC and transportation of semi-finished product between Rijeka and Sisak. Processing of crude at Sisak would continue on an on-and-off basis, as it had been recently, while secondary units will operate without stopping.

-- Swiss commodity trader Gunvor is looking at various options for its refinery in Rotterdam aimed at meeting the International Maritime Organization's requirements for low sulfur marine fuel from 2020, the company said, adding that it hasn't made any decision yet. Late last year, the Dutch authorities said that, in response to a Gunvor inquiry, it had clarified that there was no need for an environmental assessment for a delayed coker. But a Gunvor spokesman said the company has not made a decision regarding upgrade work.

-- Poland's Plock refinery aims to complete a new visbreaker unit by the end of 2020. The visbreaker will help to cut output of high sulfur fuel oil in favor of more valuable, cleaner products such as distillates, the company said.

-- The 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 in Haifa, the Haifa District Court said. The court said in its ruling that it believed the National Planning Commission had taken into account environmental concerns when it approved the expansion plan last year. Bazan CEO Yashar Ben Mordechai called the court's ruling, which clears the path for the refinery expansion plans "an important decision for Bazan and the environment." He added that it would enable the company to meet domestic demand as well as invest in future growth engines for the company, including alternative fuels.


LAUNCHES


-- Turkey's Star is expecting its first tanker delivery in June. The new refinery has been configured to process crudes of specific gravity 28-36, which means the bulk of crude processed will be heavy crudes from Middle Eastern producers or Russia.

-- Turkey's Ersan Petrol plans to start construction of its 1.4 million mt/year Nazli refinery at Kahramanmaras in southeast Turkey by the end of 2018, with the plant expected to begin operations by the end of 2022.

--Elza Turner, elza.turner@spglobal.com
--Edited by James Leech, james.leech@spglobal.com