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REFINERY NEWS ROUNDUP: Run cuts, closures remain in focus in Europe

London — European oil refineries continue to reduce runs or opt for closures as coronavirus spreads throughout the continent and forces national lockdowns.

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Refineries that have reduced runs are ExxonMobil's French sites Gravenchon and Fos, and some inland German reifneries including Miro. Output was also heard reduced at Spanish refineries.

BP said its Castellon site was running normally, with output adjusted to weaker demand.

Cepsa said it has adjusted its output to the current demand scenario and ensuring supply. Repsol said work was continuing at all its refineries.

Portugal's Galp said utilization at both refineries, Sines and Porto, had not dropped significantly so far, although the prolonged low demand and weak commodity price environment might lead to some adjustments to production.

Some refineries that have been undergoing works have chosen not to restart, including France's Grandpuits and Feyzin.

Total's Gonfreville refinery near Le Havre has been working at lower capacity following a fire at the CDU and as other units have also been halted, sources said. France's Lavera was also continuing its maintenance, although the works had slowed due to coronavirus.

In Italy, API's refinery in the Italian coastal town of Falconara Marittima went fully offline this month after starting to wind down operations on March 30 in a bid to offset a decline in demand for refined products caused by coronavirus, a source close to the refinery said. Falconara had only returned to full operations in early March after a 40-day turnaround.

Italian oil giant Eni said its refineries in Italy were running at around 60% of capacity. It is operating the Livorno, Taranto and Sannazzaro plants.

According to local media, the Sannazzaro refinery in the north is running at an average of 50% of total capacity. The Milazzo refinery in Sicily has been running at 80% of capacity. Italian motorway fuel stations have suffered an 85% drop in demand since the coronavirus outbreak began in February.

Austria's OMV has converted its production in favor of petrochemicals due to weaker demand for jet fuels. The company operates a steam cracker in Schwechat, Austria, and one in Burghausen, Germany, as well as refineries at the same locations. It also holds a majority stake in Romania's Petrobrazi.

In the Netherlands, Gunvor also decided to postpone the start of planned works at its Rotterdam site. The delay would also mean that one of the two CDUs halted in November for economic reasons and due to restart after the turnaround would remain offline. Finland's Neste has also deferred planned maintenance. Norway's Mongstad, after planning a maintenance in May, has decided to postpone it.

Maintenance is expected to go ahead at the Netherland's Pernis, which said it would continue to operate and that planned major maintenance would take place.

Germany's Ingolstadt restarted after maintenance, while the country's Heide refinery said it was "currently running without restrictions." Production was continuing "as usual" at Preem's two sites in Sweden -- Gothenburg and Lysekil.

ExxonMobil's refineries in the UK and the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp hub have put business continuity plans in place to deal with potential disruption. "Our contingency plans will help ensure continued supply of our products and to minimise any impact on our customers," UK Fawley said.

In the east Mediterranean, Israel's Bazan, which operates the Haifa refinery, said that due to lower demand for gasoline, it has reduced the volumes of gasoline it imports. In addition, Bazan said it had managed to "divert some of the diesel quantities from the domestic market to the export markets in which it operates and also made adjustments in production volumes to meet demand levels."

The refiner said that following a reduction in jet fuel demand since early March, with jet representing about 8% of the fuel sector's output, the refinery "has the ability to reduce jet fuel production and to partly dilute it with diesel fuel."

Earlier in March, Israel's ICL, Bazan's parent company, said that should domestic and export demand for oil products, such as diesel, gasoline and jet fuel, drop "the company will lower its production volumes and stock levels, which could also affect the production levels of the subsidiaries."

Elsewhere, Spain plans to relax restrictions on non-essential activity after April 9. Spain is not planning to extend a cut to "non-essential activities" beyond the Easter weekend, although the current state of alert is likely to roll over for a further two weeks, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced. This means industrial and other activity in Spain should return to the state that existed between March 15 and March 29, although lockdown and other health measures will remain in place. The state of alert is likely to be extended this week for two further weeks to April 26, Sanchez said, although there are signs that the health situation is improving.

In other news, Germany's Rhineland refinery has completed a feasibility study, together with the regional economics ministry, for the production of cleaner aircraft fuel. It said a demonstration plant for the production of synthetic fuels with around 15,000 mt/year production could be integrated at the Wesseling plant of the refinery and produce fuel with renewable energy. The fuel "can be used in particular in aviation and replace fossil fuels," it said.

Near term

New and revised entries

--Norway's Mongstad will postpone works initially planned on its crude unit between May 13-June 2, the company said.

--Galp has concluded a major regular maintenance activity at Sines that included the 43,000 b/d hydrocracker unit, a company spokesman said, noting all units were fully operational after the month and a half halt.

--A programmed halt between January and the end of March, which included the finalization of three CO2 emission reduction projects at the 1.7 million cu m/yr fluid catalytic cracker among other work, was ongoing in early April at Spain's Coruna, the company said. The projects will allow fuel savings and a CO2 reduction of 18,000 mt/year, Repsol said. The work also entails a shutdown of the calcination unit at the start of 2020 due to technological obsolescence. The plant is used for thermally treating green low sulfur coke to eliminate light hydrocarbons and humidity. During the course of this year, a new distillation unit will also be installed to produce polymer grade propylene, with an investment of Eur29 million. The unit is planned to be online by the end of 2020.

--The restart of France's Grandpuits refinery has been delayed due to reduced demand caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. The refinery halted production at the start of March for maintenance at some units. The restart has been delayed with only partial activity going on.

--API's refinery in the Italian coastal town of Falconara Marittima went fully offline in early April after starting to wind down operations on March 30 in a bid to offset a decline in demand for refined products caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to information provided to S&P Global Platts. Falconara had only returned to full operations in early March after a 40-day turnaround that began on January 25. In mid March ot started reducing output.

--Eni's Sannazzaro de Burgondi refinery in Northern Italy was undergoing maintenance started in early March involving "units internal to the refinery," an Eni spokesperson said. In line with the government decree aimed at combating the spread of the coronavirus, all non-essential work, such as the Eni slurry technology unit maintenance, had been suspended, the spokesperson said. The refinery had planned to undergo maintenance including a large portion of the plant as well as restart Sannazzaro's slurry technology unit which had been offline since a fire in 2016, a source said. The refinery's EST unit was supposed to go back online after repair and maintenance work planned through to the end of March, according to the original plans, the source said. These plans had now been delayed and it was not yet clear when it would be restarted. Meanwhile, local media reported that Sannazzaro was running at around 50% of capacity.

--Maintenance at Germany's Ingolstadt has been completed, as planned, on March 28, a refinery source said. It started March 10. The refinery is back now in operation.

--The FCC plant at the Milazzo refinery located in Sicily is currently fully operational after a technical issue had temporarily caused it to go offline, according to information provided by a source close to the unit to S&P Global. The FCC plant was originally taken offline in October for maintenance and upgrade works, and was later restarted around mid-January. After this, it suffered mechanical issues with a compressor inside its catalyzer, and as a result the FCC was placed into maintenance again to resolve the issue. Eni reported "an upset at the Milazzo refinery" in its fourth-quarter report. The two topping plants at Italy's Milazzo refinery in Sicily are currently jointly producing 1,600 cu m/hour, with the plant shifting towards producing higher levels of combustible oils with lower sulfur levels for use by vessels, a source close to the refinery said.

--Shell's Pernis refinery in the Netherlands said it is still working to restart some units that were shut after a power outage on March 28. The restart could cause inconvenience until the end of the week starting April 6. Separately, Shell's Pernis refinery said that it would continue to operate and that the planned major maintenance would take place. The refinery said it is following and implementing all government advice to limit the further spread of coronavirus, by applying "social distance" between employees and strict hygiene guidelines. The company has said the refinery was preparing for a major turnaround that will include several units, and will start May 4 and last through June. But traders said subsequently that the maintenance might be brought forward to April. The company declined to comment.

--Gunvor said it has decided to delay the turnaround at its Rotterdam refinery. "The unpredictable spread of COVID-19, in combination with regulations and strict safety measures, have resulted in a situation that makes it impossible to perform the originally planned work in a way that ensures the health and safety of all those involved in this complex and critical work, as we would be welcoming more people on site," it said.

The company is currently working to determine the timeframe of the turnaround.

Gunvor halted CDU1 in November for economic reasons and also to prepare for an upcoming turnaround in March, it said previously.

--Petroineos's Lavera refinery in France is currently continuing with its scheduled maintenance, although the works have slowed down due to the coronavirus outbreak and safety measures have been strengthened to protect the staff, according to industry sources. Employees most at risk of the virus are not working.

--The Neustadt site of the Bayernoil refinery in southeast Germany is completing its planned works on schedule. The first systems started up April 6

and all of the facilities will be back online by April 20. The works were set to last between March 2 and April 6, the refinery has said. Bayernoil consists of the Vohburg and Neustadt sites, which are closely interconnected. The refinery was taken offline for several months following an explosion in a unit at the Vohburg site and a subsequent fire on September 1, 2018. The Vohburg plant restart lasted between May and November 2019.

--Petronor said at Bilbao it has taken offline its 2 million mt/yr coker unit and related units over the last weekend for an unscheduled maintenance halt that will last an estimated nine days. The unit was recently taken offline in February for a scheduled maintenance. The refinery also halted the visbreaking unit of plant 3 during April 6.

Existing entries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--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.


Existing entries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


New and revised entries

--Romania's Petromidia is 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. Dewaxing units are used for the production of winter grade diesel. The integration of the new dewaxing unit will also "allow an increase in the production of aviation jet fuel," it said. 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". As part of the project, set for completion in June 2021, the the high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plant will be converted into a Polypropylene plant (PP). The annual polypropylene production capacity is set to increase from 90,000 mt at the moment to 120,000 mt by 2022.

--Poland's largest refiner PKN Orlen said it has completed the main part of its Czech Crown 9.6 billion ($382 million) polyethylene 3 (PE3) investment at the Litvinov refinery in the Czech Republic. The company said the "natural line" part of the unit that produces natural polyethylene had been handed over to the refinery's owners Unipetrol, a wholly-owned PKN subsidiary. The PE3 unit will ultimately produce 270,000 mt/year of high density polyethylene and it replaces one of the two existing production units at the refinery with a capacity of 120,000 mt/yr, PKN said in a market filing. The launch of production from the new PE3 unit will increase high density polyethylene capacity at Litvinov from 320,000 mt/yr to 470,000 mt/yr. PKN said the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic had delayed testing on the part of the unit that produces black polyethylene. A guarantee test on that part of the installation will take place once the restrictions are lifted, PKN said. The company said the natural polyethylene unit can work with 100% of the total name plate capacity of the PE3 unit.

Existing entries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Existing entries

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

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

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

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