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Refinery news roundup: Autumn turnarounds set to start in Europe

London — Planned refinery turnarounds in Europe have been building up, with several sites planning works in September. Meanwhile, news has focused on quarterly results.

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Total said that its H1 and Q2 refinery runs were down as a result of "the shutdown at Grandpuits in France and the lower throughput at Leuna in Germany linked to contaminated crude from Russia." Q2 throughput volumes decreased by 8% on the year and H1 runs were down 3% on the year. Total restarted its Grandpuits refinery in mid-July as well as the related crude pipeline PLIF, which ships crude oil from Le Havre. The pipeline and the refinery have been shut since late February due to a leak on the crude pipeline. Separately, its Leuna refinery in Germany was running at reduced rates following the Druzhba pipeline contamination issues in April.

In July, PKN Orlen said it has unloaded the Mendeleev Prospect tanker carrying contaminated Russian crude oil at the Klaipeda terminal in Lithuania for refining at its Orlen Lietuva refinery in Mazeikiu, the company said Friday. The crude will be diluted with clean oil. The tanker was loaded at Russia's Ust-Luga port on April 24 before the news of the contamination became widespread.

Crude throughput at Repsol's refineries was 10.6 million mt in the second quarter, down 3% year on year, with the company accelerating maintenance work to prepare the complex for the new IMO regulations in 2020.

It was the fifth consecutive quarter with an annualized slowdown.

Throughput in the company's Spanish refineries was 9.6 million mt, down from 10.2 million mt in the same quarter of last year and down from 9.9 million mt in Q1 this year. The utilization rate of the company's five Spanish refineries was 85.9% in the second quarter, down from 88.4% in Q2 2018 and down from 92.8% in Q1 2019.

Crude throughput at Tupras, Turkey's biggest refiner, for the second quarter was 7.234 million mt, up 11.3% from Q2 2018, and up 3.1% on the first quarter of this year. Throughput over the first half of the year was 14.251 million mt, up 19% on the year. Tupras said its four refineries operated at a capacity utilization of 95% during the first half, compared with 85.2% in the first half of 2018 and up from 93.6% in Q1 this year. Last year, the company closed its 227,000 b/d Izmir refinery for extended scheduled maintenance, while this year the fuel oil conversion unit at its 227,000 b/d Izmit refinery was closed for maintenance February 26 to May 13. Fuel oil production was up 160% to 1.658 million mt because of the maintenance at Izmit.

Romania's Rompetrol increased throughput at Petromidia in the first half of the year to 3.126 million mt, 1% up on the year, and to 1.611 million mt in Q2, 3% up on the year ago quarter. The Ploiesti-based Vega refinery processed 202,000 mt in H1, up 4% on the year, and 123,000 mt in Q2, 5% higher.

Rompetrol operates Petromidia, the specialty Vega site, a bitumen, hexane and solvents producer, and a petrochemical division, which is the only polypropylene and polyethylene producer in Romania.

Eni's Porto Marghera biodiesel refinery in Venice, Italy, has completed cleaning and maintenance works on its ISO unit and also Ecofining plants.

Eni's converted Gela oil refinery in Sicily will start production in early September, sources said. The refinery is currently undergoing restart operations with most plants being reactivated after the Italian energy giant completed a Eur1.15 billion ($1.3 billion) conversion of the Southern Italian plant.



--Eni expects full operations at its Sannazzaro de Burgondi refinery in northern Italy in the third quarter, the company said in its Q2 report Friday.

It had previously said that it expects to restart in September the Eni Slurry Technology (EST) unit, which was placed offline amid damage from a fire almost three years ago. Repair works on two EST plant units have been ongoing since the fire in 2016. Eni's Sannazzaro will start maintenance work on its Line 2 between September and October, sources said.

--Mineraloelraffinerie Oberrhein (Miro) expects to restart the 12,500 mt/day fluid catalytic cracker at its refinery in Karlsruhe, Germany, in 3-4 weeks, a company spokesperson said. The FCC was shut down August 7 following a technical issue.

--The API refinery in Falconara Marittima, Italy, has begun restart operations on its platforming and hydrogen 1 units following maintenance since late July, a source close to the plant said.

--Russian vertically integrated oil company Gazprom Neft's volume of refined products fall 2.8% year on year in the first half because of maintenance at the Pancevo and Yanos refineries, the company said.

--Galp CEO Carlos Gomes da Silva said planned maintenance on the atmospheric distillation unit at Sines will start in August and last 40 to 50 days. The company said it will use the halt to increase efficiency and conversion ability of the refinery, improving its refining margin. The conversion units at the refinery will continue to work at full capacity during the outage and refining margins will not be affected, Gomes da Silva said. The company said its entire refining system, comprising Sines and the 110,000 b/d Matosinhos refinery, should be fully operational in the whole fourth quarter, allowing the company to capture a forecast increase in refining margins due to the impact of new International Maritime Organization marine fuel sulfur regulations coming into force next year.

--Germany's Rhineland said that a unit at Wesseling has been restarted. It was halted in July due to a glitch at unidentified units. Separately, scheduled maintenance is starting at Godorf in September. The turnaround will last between September 2-October 10. 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.

Construction will start immediately with the new plant scheduled to go onstream in 2021. As part of the modernization, Shell is converting the power plant from oil to gas and the new plant will have significantly lower emissions.

--The Scholven part of BP's Gelsenkirchen refinery in Germany will undergo an inspection by technical experts, with several units set to be shut down, BP Deutschland said, adding that the works were planned and required by law. The shutdown of facilities will start at the end of August and restart will begin in mid-October, the company said. Equipment will be checked, cleaned and repaired or replaced if necessary.

--Israel's Ashdod refinery is due to undergo maintenance in October. As part of the works it aims to carry out upgrades ahead of the IMO 2020 low sulfur cap on bunker fuel. "We are investing in new facilities in the Paz Ashdod Refinery which will improve its yield," it said.

--Finland's Neste has scheduled a four-week decoking maintenance at Production Line 4 at Porvoo in September-October which would have a "negative impact" on the segment's operating profit, "mainly in the fourth quarter". It expects high utilization rates in Q3, "except for normal unit maintenance." In Q4 it has scheduled a catalyst change at the Rotterdam renewable products refinery.

In 2017 Neste completed the integration of the Porvoo and Naantali refineries.

--Klesch's Heide refinery will restrict operations for inspection and maintenance until October 6, the company said early August. The reduction in operations started for checks in advance of the main work, which will begin at the start of September and will last through October.

--Total's Gonfreville refinery near Le Havre, France, will undergo a planned maintenance in September and October, a source close to the company said.

Total had previously said it would carry out maintenance at Gonfreville in the second half of 2019.

--The maintenance at Preem's Lysekil refinery near Brofjorden will take place as planned, starting at the beginning of September, the company said. The works are due to continue until mid-November.


--Lukoil's ISAB refinery in Sicily is currently running maintenance on the topping unit at the complex's northern plant to take advantage of current slow demand for products, sources close to the refinery told S&P Global in early July. The topping plant works involve upgrades and ordinary maintenance, and are expected to last a few months, the sources said. The timing of the work is related to the current market conditions tied to demand for finished products, they said. A turnaround is scheduled for the refinery's southern plant "after the summer," the sources said. Preparations for the maintenance will start in September, with the plant expected to go offline for some 40 days in October, they said.

--A unit has been offline since June 21 at the Milazzo refinery in Sicily for maintenance, labor union sources said. No information was provided on when the Topping 3 plant at the refinery is scheduled to restart. The plant is scheduled to carry out some 45 days of maintenance work on its FCC unit and ancillary plants starting mid-September, though the refinery will not be offline during the work.

--Italy's Sarroch forecasts refinery runs at 26 million-27 million barrels for both the second and third quarter, while it expects runs to drop slightly in the fourth quarter to 25 million-26 million barrels. For the full year, Sarroch forecasts runs of 96 million-99 million barrels. In Q4, the refinery is scheduled to carry out maintenance on its north plants, its visbreaking unit, its RT2 topping unit and V1 vacuum unit, according to a company presentation on its Q1 results. The refinery will also carry out work on its petrochemicals plant.

--Germany's Bayernoil, which was taken offline following an incident last September, began its restart in May. It began with the test for the steam boiler followed by the restart of the first crude processing unit. The remaining units will be coming on stream over the course of the summer.

--Hungary's MOL said it was planning a turnaround at its Danube refinery in the third quarter, as well as steam cracker maintenance at its Hungarian and Slovakian petrochemical sites in the second half of the year.

--Poland's largest refiner PKN Orlen plans maintenance shutdowns on the hydrodesulfurization HOG unit, the hydrogen recovery and PVC units in Plock and the visbreaking and DRW units in Unipetrol in the second half of 2019.



--Repsol 2019 maintenance plans include hydro-treatment unit and hydrocracker at Cartagena in September; partial works at Puertollano in October and November, as the company is carrying out an extensive digitalization upgrade at the plant this year and will carry out turnarounds at the cracker and chemical derivative plants at the end of 2020; and petrochemical works at Tarragona in Q4. The cracker at Tarragona would undergo maintenance in Q4 2019, pushed back from Q3. At A Coruna, the FCC and VDU set to undergo maintenance this year. Repsol said it will invest Eur69 million in four projects that will upgrade the fluid catalytic cracker at A Coruna during 2020 and increase the refinery's production of polymer grade propylene. The work will take place during a scheduled maintenance halt at the start of 2020.

--Finland's Neste is preparing for a major turnaround at Porvoo in 2020.

--Total will invest Eur150 million at its Leuna refinery in Germany. The investment into an upgrade project aims to reduce the production of heavy products, demand for which decreases, 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 and increase the competitiveness of the plant. The methanol production will increase as a result of increased output from the visbreaker unit and an upgrade of the POX/Methanol plant. Work will continue until 2021, with the major part done in the 2020 major shutdown of the refinery where another Eur150 million will be invested.

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

--Saras will carry out maintenance and upgrade works on the 90,000 b/d FCC unit at its Sarroch refinery in 2020. It will carry out a full maintenance shutdown, conducted every 10 years, in 2021.

--Sarpom's refinery in Trecate, Italy, is scheduled to undergo a large-scale, two-month general maintenance cycle in 2020 -- of the type carried out at the plant every three to four years -- a source close to the refinery said.

--A shutdown may be carried out at Portugal's Porto at the end of 2019 or early 2020 for under three weeks for the atmospheric distillation unit, where it needs to install heat exchangers.

--Rompetrol's Petromidia refinery will have its next general maintenance in 2020.

--Spain's Cepsa has moved a step closer to permanent closure of its refinery on Tenerife after signing an agreement with the regional authorities of Santa Cruz, Tenerife, to transform the site into a mixture of public space and real estate. The complex, which has been in operation for nearly 90 years, refined its last oil in 2014, having been previously idled in 2013 for "economic reasons."

--The next major maintenance at the Netherlands' Zeeland will be in 2020. The refinery has expanded its hydrocracker with the addition of third reactor, the company said. The refinery started work in June 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.

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



--Repsol said it will invest Eur69 million in four projects that will upgrade the fluid catalytic cracker in A Coruna during 2020 and increase the refinery's production of polymer grade propylene. The company has received the necessary licenses from local authorities to carry out the work in its conversion units, it said. The FCC investment will total Eur40 million. The first project (G-52) will be directed towards energy efficiency and CO2 reduction, while G-53 will reduce the atmospheric particle emissions form the unit. At the same time, project G-54 will involve the installation of a new compressor in the gas recovery unit and the substitution of steam turbines for electric motors in both that unit and the FCC. The work will take place during a scheduled maintenance halt at the start of 2020, the company said. Besides the work on the conversion units, Repsol will spend Eur29 million on project G-55 which includes the installation of a new 80-meter splitter, with work also to commence in 2020. The new unit would be online towards the end of next year, it said.

--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. "Oil products will continue to play an important role in the decades ahead, and this project means we will be able to make more and cleaner fuels, bitumen and base chemicals," said Frans Dumoulin, director of the Shell Rheinland Refinery in a statement. "At the same time, we want to contribute to accelerating the use of hydrogen in transport and other sectors." 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. Construction will start immediately with the new plant scheduled to go onstream in 2021. As part of the modernization, Shell is converting the power plant from oil to gas and the new plant will have significantly lower emissions.


--Poland's second-largest refiner Grupa Lotos said construction of the coking complex -- a key element of its EFRA modernization program -- was complete and it was ready for start-up. Lotos said the coking complex, comprising a delayed coking unit, a coker naphtha hydrotreating unit, and coke storage and logistics facility would allow the refinery to stop producing heavy fuel oil.

It will concentrate production on high-margin fuels such as diesel and jet fuel, with the share of refining output increasing to more than 89% from 77% in 2012. The refinery developments will allow it to meet changing marine fuel demand driven by the new International Maritime Organization rules that come into force from January 2020, Lotos CEO Mateusz A. Bonca said in a statement.

The commissioning of the coking complex has been delayed more than once to allow for additional technical checks.

--A Spanish press report citing the Andalucia region's chief officer for finance, industry and energy, Juan Bravo, said Cepsa's Eur1 billion "bottom of the barrel" project at its San Roque refinery may be delayed. The report in ABC de Sevilla said the project was being held up by an unspecified administrative procedure delaying the start of work. A Cepsa spokesman declined to comment. The report says the project may be held up a year and start in 2020, instead of 2019 as planned. The project entails a new hydrocracker at the site to adapt it to producing lighter products by increasing the conversion factor and also to increase the output of gasoline blending components. The upgrades are currently expected to be concluded by 2022, adding $1.4/b to its refining margin and increasing refining capacity by 36,000 b/d. The output of diesel should increase to 55% from 40% once the project is concluded. Cepsa is also to revamp the Isomax unit, fluid catalytic cracker and alkylation units and construct a methylene unit (Sorbex II) at San Roque, which will double production capacity, investing Eur1 billion through to the end of 2019 as it aims to boost conversion rates and improve technology and sustainability. Cepsa said it raised non-aromatic solvents output by 30,000 mt/year in 2018 and started work on a fixed bed alkylation plant, which is expected to start up in 2020.

--ExxonMobil said it has "made a final investment decision to expand" the Fawley refinery in the UK to increase production of ULSD by 45% or 38,000 b/d.

The more than $1 billion investment includes a hydrotreater to remove sulfur from diesel, supported by a hydrogen plant. The investment "will help reduce the need to import diesel into the United Kingdom, which imported about half of its supply in 2017," the company said. The construction, which is subject to a local planning approval, is set to begin in late 2019 with start-up expected in 2021.

--McDermott International has been awarded a contract for engineering, procurement and construction management services for the upgrade of the hydrocracker at Czech Litvinov refinery. McDermott had previously completed the feasibility study and basic engineering design. The completion is expected for Q2 of 2020. Work on the project will begin immediately.

--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, the company and union sources said. Lukoil will invest $60 million in upgrades, including two hydrodesulfurization units, which will allow the refinery to fully move to the production of Euro 5 diesel and halt output of Euro 3 and Euro 4 product.

--Cepsa said it will carry out upgrades to its aromax and hydrocracker units at Huelva in 2019. It is also carrying out an aromatics optimization project at the refinery.

--Croatia's INA will concentrate its refining in Rijeka, which will also be upgraded, and convert the smaller Sisak facility into an industrial site as part of its Downstream 2023 New Course program and 2019 business plan, the company said. The company plans to invest more than HRK 4 billion ($615 million) in a delayed coker project at Rijeka, a new port with closed petcoke storage and increased overall complexity that will make Rijeka "a top level European refinery." A final investment decision on the delayed coker project will be taken this year, with commissioning earmarked for 2023 "given that all the prerequisites that will assure return on investment will be met."

--The delayed coker at the Pancevo refinery, currently under construction, will be launched in third quarter of 2019, Kirill Tyurdenev, the managing director of NIS, said in Gazprom Neft's in-house magazine. As a result the depth of processing will reach 99.2% and the refinery will produce 500,000 mt more light products. The Nelson index will increase to 9.6. The light products yield would increase to 85% from 75%. Gazprom Neft has previously said the delayed coker will have 2,000 mt/day capacity.

--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.

--Poland's Plock refinery aims to complete a new visbreaker unit by the end of 2020.

--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.



--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. "We expect to reach financial closure for the project this summer and after that start the FEED studies which will take about nine months," he said. Sayer did not comment on reasons for the delay to the project, which had previously been expected to start construction by the end of 2018, but the past 18 months have seen Turkey pass through a major economic crisis that caused the Lira to fall by 47% against the dollar. The refinery is expected to produce diesel, jet, fuel oil, gasoil and LPGs.

--Dutch Hes International (former Hestya Energy) aims to start operations at a unit of the currently closed Wilhelmshaven refinery in Germany "later this year," it said in early January. The Netherlands-based company had previously said it would operate the unit, which it declined to name, under a tolling agreement. According to traders, it is the VDU that is likely to be restarted in 2019 and used for producing low sulfur fuel oil ahead of the 2020 IMO requirement for low sulfur bunker fuel.

--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. Development of a second refinery would be necessary if the company decides to go ahead with plans for a second petrochemical plant at its existing Petkim facility. A final investment decision is expected in March.

--Elza Turner,

--Edited by Dan Lalor,