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REFINERY NEWS ROUNDUP: Some works in Europe resume

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REFINERY NEWS ROUNDUP: Some works in Europe resume

London — Some works at European refineries that were suspended due to the coronavirus have now restarted, including at France's Gonfreville and Feyzin, as countries ease restrictions.

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--ExxonMobil said its two French refineries, Gravenchon and Fos, were adapting activities according to market changes, but declined to provide further details. Oil product demand in France has started to increase as the country eases restrictions introduced to combat the spread of the coronavirus. ExxonMobil said at the end of March that throughput at the two refineries had been reduced because of decreasing demand.

--France's Feyzin refinery has resumed maintenance and is likely to restart in July, according to trading sources. Work started on February 14 and was due to last around seven weeks, but was suspended due to the coronavirus. The Grandpuits refinery was expected to restart in June, sources said. The restart of Grandpuits was delayed due to reduced demand caused by the coronavirus, the company said previously.

--France's Gonfreville is working at around 50% capacity after its crude distillation unit was damaged, traders said. Works to repair the CDU, which were suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, have resumed, according to market sources.

--Eni's refineries in Italy -- Sannazzaro and Taranto -- are running at around 60% of capacity.

--At the end of April, Eni said Livorno was operating normally, with both of its lubricant production lines in operation. However, the refinery will avoid all non-essential maintenance and investment in the coming year 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 to start in October and run into 2021.

--Italy's Milazzo refinery postponed a large-scale maintenance planned for later this year to 2021. The refinery, located on the southern Italian island of Sicily, took its FCC offline and reduced output at its gasoline production units to offset the drop in demand. Meanwhile, employees at the refinery ended a strike to protest the uncertain future of some 600 plant workers placed in furlough due to the coronavirus crisis. The strike affected refinery output while it lasted, as employees held off all but emergency and basic work necessary to keep the refinery operational.

--API's refinery in the Italian coastal town of Falconara Marittima is operational after restarting. 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.

--Saras, which owns Italy's Sarroch refinery, has been running at around 70% of its capacity since March. Only two of its three CDUs are currently operational, with gasoline production levels low amid weak demand. The plant is currently operating its diesel production activities normally.

--In Spain, refinery operators have trimmed rates to meet demand. Workers have been returning to Repsol's A Coruna refinery in northwest Spain after the complex was kept largely offline since a routine halt in January.

--Petronor said it has taken its crude unit 2 at Bilbao offline from May 9 until market conditions improve. The halt will affect 40% of the refinery's crude distillation, it said. The visbreaker was halted on April 6, while the FCC at Bilbao was also taken offline when the pandemic was delcared.

--Cepsa said it is carrying out routine maintenance at one of its two crude units at the San Roque refinery, without specifying which unit. Output at San Roque has been adjusted to account for lower demand levels.

--Spain's Huelva refinery has experienced a fire that started in one of its cooling towers, the company confirmed, without adding details of units that had been affected. The fire started when a motor set alight, burning through the plastic inside and causing a thick column of smoke. The fire was extinguished quickly with no harm to workers, Cepsa said.

--Galp has temporarily suspended fuel production at the Matosinhos refinery in Portugal from mid-April and at its larger Sines refinery for around a month from May 4.

--Petroineos' Grangemouth refinery in the UK is running at around 50% of capacity on weak demand for oil products during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a source close to the matter. Petroineos' Lavera refinery in France is operating below capacity after completing maintenance in early April, the source said. Petroineos said that in the UK "demand for road and jet fuel has dropped significantly" as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and after the government advised people to stay at home. "As a responsible operator of Scotland's only refinery, Petroineos is in regular discussion with the Scottish and UK Governments on a variety of matters," the company said, adding that it is "taking steps to ensure the ongoing supply of fuel to Scotland, Northern England and Northern Ireland to support the needs of the public and industry as the economy begins to emerge from COVID-19 lockdown."

--In the Netherlands, Gunvor postponed the start of planned work at its Rotterdam site, and subsequently the restart of one of the two CDUs. Finland's Neste has also deferred planned maintenance. Norway's Mongstad, has decided to postpone maintenance work originally scheduled to take place in May. Germany's Heide Raffinerie has postponed planned maintenance for six months due to the coronavirus.

--Pernis in the Netherlands brought its maintenance forward to mid-April.

--Germany's Schwedt has completed planned maintenance.

--Zeeland in Flushing in the Netherlands has started its planned maintenance.

--ExxonMobil's refineries in the UK and the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp hub have put business continuity plans in place to deal with potential disruption.

--Israel's Bazan, which operates the Haifa refinery, said that as of early May "most of the severe traffic restrictions have been removed in Israel and according to the Ministry of Energy, consumption of diesel and gasoline is returning to the pre-restrictions level." In April, Bazan said that due to declining domestic demand following restrictions to combat the spread of the coronavirus it had managed to "divert some of the diesel quantities from the domestic market to the export markets" and had made adjustments to production volumes.

--Hungary's MOL said in its first-quarter earnings presentation that it is planning only small-scale maintenance work across its refineries for the rest of 2020, but added that even some of this might be rescheduled because of the challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis. MOL said its refineries were running at 70%-75% of capacity in April and its steam crackers at 90%. It added that utilization could rise in May as coronavirus-related restrictions were eased.

--Turkey's Izmir refinery in Aliaga might restart sooner than expected due to rising demand for oil products, according to traders. The refinery, which halted completely on May 5, could restart as early as June. Owner Tupras was not immediately available to comment. The company said previously that it would suspend production as of May 5, as a result of the "negative impact of the global COVID-19 outbreak on petroleum products demand" and variable commercial conditions in domestic and international markets. The company stated that it anticipates restarting production on July 1, with the caveat that the required conditions for restarting would be "an increase in demand for petroleum products along with improving economic activity".

--Turkey's Kirikkale refinery near Ankara is running at reduced rates, according to trading sources. Socar is maintaining full production levels at its STAR refinery at Aliaga in Turkey, although with an altered product portfolio. In its first-quarter report Tupras said that due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on fuel demand the company had been obliged to revise its expectations for 2020 based on the assumption that the effects of the pandemic would begin to decrease in June and that normal levels of economic activity would resume in August. Tupras also said it had postponed most of the maintenance work scheduled for later this year.

--Austria's OMV said it expected the utilization rate at its European refineries to be around 80% this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on oil product demand. Currently it is running its European refineries -- Schwechat in Austria, Burghausen in Germany and Petrobrazi in Romania -- at around 80% utilization due to significant decline of oil product demand. The company's previous expectations were for a 95% utilization rate in 2020, from 97% in 2019.

--In January-March, PKN reduced utilization at its refineries in Poland, Lithuania and the Czech Republic by seven percentage points year on year to 88%. Utilization of Plock in Poland fell four points year on year to 97%, while utilization at Orlen Lietuva in Lithuania and the Czech Unipetrol plants was cut by 8 and 10 percentage points to 80% and 76% respectively. Throughput at Plock was down due to maintenance on the CDU VI, HDS I and HDS VI and PTA units.

--Greek refiner Hellenic said its Q1 results improved on higher production and exports, despite "weaker domestic market sales due to Covid-19". In the first quarter, Greek demand was 4% down as the impact of the coronavirus "was pronounced only towards the quarter end." But motor fuel demand in Greece was down by around 40% in April, Hellenic said. Greece has been in lockdown since March 23, due to the coronavirus pandemic, with gradual lifting of restrictions from May 4.

--Romania's Petromidia is running at reduced rates due to lower product demand, market sources said. It is expecting to increase run rates to around 70%-75% in June from 60% in May. The refinery completed its turnaround between March 13 and April 28.

--Poland's second-largest refiner Grupa Lotos said throughput at its Gdansk refinery in the first quarter fell by just 0.5% year on year to 2.598 million mt despite the restrictions on economic life imposed to contain the coronavirus. "So far, there have been no disruptions in the refinery's operations, hydrocarbon production, or in logistics and distribution of products," the company said in a Q1 report.

Near term maintenance

New and revised entries

--Turkish refiner Tupras said its total refinery output in the first quarter was down 10.4% year on year to 6.040 million mt, which was 12.7% lower than the fourth quarter of 2019. Tupras attributed the fall in production to maintenance on crude oil units, which caused capacity utilization for the quarter to fall to 84.6%, down from 87% in Q4 last year, and from 93.6% in Q1 2019. Tupras said the refinery units affected by maintenance work during Q1 were the U100 and U9200 units at Izmir, and the Pit U100 /1100 unit at Batman. Work on all three was reported to have been completed during the quarter. Tupras also said it had postponed most of the maintenance work scheduled for later this year. The only planned maintenance work for this year is now a six-week shutdown of the U400 FCC unit at Izmir in the fourth quarter.

--Workers are returning to Repsol's A Coruna refinery in northwest Spain after the complex has been kept largely offline since a routine January halt, the company said. The refinery was taken offline in January for routine maintenance but the restart was not fully implemented due to the reduced demand caused by COVID-19 restrictions on travel and safety considerations. The programmed halt included the finalization of three CO2 emission reduction projects at the 1.7 million cu m/year fluid catalytic cracker among other work, which will lead to fuel savings and a CO2 reduction of 18,000 mt/year, as well as a shutdown of the calcination unit at the start of 2020 due to technological obsolescence. The company has reduced operations at its other refineries as a result of the pandemic and its impact on demand. It said its FCCs at Bilbao and Puertollano were running at reduced rates, with other units also affected by the industrial slowdown. The company also took its crude 2 unit offline at Bilbao on May 9 due to market reasons, with the unit staying offline until conditions improve.

--Maintenance at Germany's Schwedt has been completed with commissioning underway. All required hygiene and safety measures to prevent the coronavirus pandemic spreading have been implemented. Local media had reported previously that the turnaround would involve works on the visbreaker, high conversion cracking (HSC) and diesel hydrotreater units, which will be carried out between April 23 and the end of May.

--France's Feyzin refinery has resumed its maintenance and is likely to restart in July, according to trading sources. Planned maintenance at Feyzin was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. The petrochemical part of the plant was operating normally. Work started on February 14 and was due to last around seven weeks.

--France's Grandpuits is expected to restart in June, sources said. The restart of Grandpuits after maintenance works earlier this year has been delayed due to reduced demand following the demand destruction caused by the coronavirus, the company said previously.

--France's Gonfreville is currently working at around 50% capacity after its CDU was damaged, traders said. 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.

--The Zeeland refinery in Flushing, the Netherlands, which is undergoing full maintenance, is expected back in June, according to trading sources. The refinery started large scale planned maintenance in the middle of May, it said on its website. It also said that during the maintenance the risk of infection is minimized "thanks to a strict prevention and hygiene protocol" with a distance of one and half meters being kept. Traders also attributed the timing of the maintenance to poor margins and weak oil products demand. The maintenance will be used for the upgrade of the hydrocracker to be completed, the company has previously said.

Existing entries

--Greek refiner Hellenic said its Aspropyrgos refinery will have full turnaround in Q3.

--Cepsa told S&P Global Platts that it is carrying out a routine maintenance at one of its two crude units at the San Roque refinery, without specifying which unit. The outage would last several days, the company said, without elaborating. The crude 1 unit can process 120,000 boe/d and crude 3 can process 135,000 boe/d, according to company data. The refinery's output has been adjusted to account for lower demand levels in the country due to COVID-19 industrial and travel restrictions.

--Saras' Chief Executive Officer Dario Scaffardi said that the second quarter of the year will be "heavily affected by ongoing maintenance on Topping Unit T1 and FCC conversion unit," at Sarroch. Scaffardi said that the time frame and costs of the works rose due to Covid-19 safety measures adopted, with FCC works still ongoing amid a delay. All works are expected to be completed by the end of the second quarter. The timing of the maintenance was fortunate, as the lockdown affected demand for the FCC, the refinery's main gasoline producer unit and were it operational it "would have been ramped down due to the collapse of gasoline demand," Scaffardi said. The bulk of maintenance is over with the topping unit revamp completed successfully, tested and running normally, the executive said, adding that the unit may be forced offline in the near future if demand doesn't pick up for "economic" reasons. The FCC unit maintenance is expected to last for another month, Scaffardi said, adding that "we didn't push accelerating it back onstream as it didn't feel necessary in May. We don't know if this will change in June, as we need to be a bit more confident in terms of demand pickup as it's not good for these units to go into stop and start mode."

--Spain's Petronor said it took its crude 2 unit offline at Bilbao from the morning of May 9 due to market reasons, with the unit staying offline until conditions improve. The halt will affect 40% of the refinery's crude distillation, it said. The visbreaker was halted on April 6, while the FCC at Bilbao was also taken offline since the pandemic declaration.

--PKN's Czech refineries reduced throughput in Q1 by 11% hit by coronavirus restrictions cutting demand in March and the start of a maintenance shutdown at Kralupy in the same month. In February a hydrocracker maintenance affected product sales, the company said.

--Planned general 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. The maintenance had been planned to take placed over six weeks, regional newspaper Mitteldeutsche Zeitung reported. Total said in 2019 it would invest Eur150 million ($166 million) to reduce production of heavy products as demand decreases, and increase production of methanol, a key feedstock for the chemical industry. Work was due to continue until 2021, with the bulk carried out during a major shutdown of the refinery in 2020.

--Some scheduled maintenance at Austria's Schwechat and Romania's Petrobrazi will be postponed to June and Q3, with the Petrobrazi maintenance set to take place at the end of July, OMV said.

--Valero Energy said second-quarter planned works at its plant in Pembroke, Wales, will lead to reduced rates. Valero said that second quarter planned work at its two non-US refineries -- the 235,000 b/d Quebec City refinery and the 270,000 b/d Pembroke, UK, plant -- will reduce throughput to between 315,000 b/d and 335,000 b/d, without providing data for each of the two refineries. The company also said that it expects to run its refinery system at about 70% of capacity in the second quarter of 2020 as it seeks to strike a balance between supply and demand.

--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 and not expected to be taken before demand for refined products picks up, according to a source close to the refinery. "The planned maintenance activity is ongoing according to the scheduled programs, and will be completed by the end of May," a spokeswoman for Eni said. 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 refinery underwent maintenance in early March involving "units internal to the refinery," an Eni spokesperson said at the time. The work has been completed, the source said.

--Finland's Neste said its Porvoo refinery's major turnaround has been postponed to 2021 and only critical maintenance work can be carried out over April-June.

--Shell's Pernis refinery in the Netherlands said in mid-April it was ready to start its scheduled maintenance. The company previously said it was going to start works in mid-April, bringing them forward from the original plan for maintenance to start May 4 through June. Extra precautions have been taken to prevent the coronavirus spread, the refinery said, including working 1.5 meters apart and in small teams.

--Galp will temporarily suspend operations at its larger Sines refinery for approximately one month from May 4, having already cut output at its smaller Matosinhos refinery in April, the company said.

--Italy's ISAB refinery in Sicily will likely postpone its plans to carry out maintenance and upgrades over March-April because of the nationwide lockdown in Italy, which bans all but the most essential activities to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

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

--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 was 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.

--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. Augusta plant is running at 70%-80% of its full capacity.

--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.


New and revised entries

--Tupras said it had postponed most of the maintenance work scheduled for later this year. Planned fourth-quarter closures at Izmir of the U9200 CCR unit (7 weeks), U9600 Isomerization unit (8 weeks) and U9900 MOD unit (7 weeks) and at Izmit of the Plt Desulphurization Unit (4 weeks) have all been postponed to unspecified dates in 2021 the company said.

Existing entries

--Italy's Livorno will avoid all non-essential maintenance and investment in the coming year 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.

--Italy's Milazzo refinery postponed a widescale maintenance planned for later this year to 2021.

--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.

--Germany's Heide Raffinerie has been postponed planned maintenance for six months due to the coronavirus outbreak. The planned turnaround would have taken a quarter of its capacity offline.

--Finland's Neste said in its Q1 report that its Porvoo refinery's major turnaround in 2020 is now 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.

--The next large-scale maintenance at France's Grandpuits will be in 2021. 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.

--Germany's Mineraloelraffinerie Oberrhein (Miro) will carry out a major turnaround in 2021. It will invest Eur300 million ($333 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 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.


New and revised entries

--Poland's largest refiner, PKN Orlen, said it has purchased a license and basic design for the modernization of a hydrodesulfurisation (HOG) unit to increase the production of high-margin products at its Plock refinery. This is the response to the global changes in the fuel and energy industry, including the increasingly restrictive global regulations," PKN's CEO Daniel Obajtek said in a statement. New International Maritime Organisation regulations reduce the sulfur content of marine fuel from 3.5% to a maximum 0.5%. PKN signed a contract to buy the license from Axens. The company is planning to launch a tender to select a contractor for the investment in the coming months. The HOG unit at Plock was launched in 1999. The modernization will allow the unit to produce more diesel and gasoline.

Existing entries

--Poland's second largest refiner Grupa Lotos is looking at developing a hydrocracker unit for the production of base oils.

--Planned general 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 ($166.5 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.

--Valero said the cogen project at Pembroke, UK, has been slowed down, "pushing out" the mechanical completion by 6-9 months.

--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.

--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".

--Poland's largest refiner PKN Orlen said it has completed the main part of its polyethylene 3 (PE3) investment at the Litvinov refinery in the Czech Republic. Unipetrol will build a pyrolytic unit for waste-plastic processing at its plant in Litvinov. 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.

--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, 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.

--Croatia's INA has selected Axens Futurol ethanol technology for the "basic engineering design" of an advanced bioethanol production plant at Sisak. 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.

--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.

--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.

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

--Bosnia's Brod refinery will start production from the middle of 2020 by which time its reconstruction will be completed. The refinery 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.

--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 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 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.

--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.


Existing entries

--Dutch Hes International (former Hestya Energy) aims to start operations at the LSFO plant at the 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 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.