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REFINERY NEWS ROUNDUP: Plants, units restarting in Europe

A number of European refineries are either restarting units, like Spain's Coruna and Bilbao, or whole plants, like Turkey's Batman, as demand improves.

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Demand for oil products has been increasing in Europe as lockdowns are lifted.

Italian demand for refined oil products in the July was up 7.9% year on year to 5.2 million mt, according to data from industry group Unione Energie per la Mobilita. Oil product demand was, however, down 7.5% compared with 5.6 million mt in July 2019, according to UNEM.

Meanwhile, Romania's Petromidia refinery -- which halted operations July 2 following a fire at a diesel hydrotreating unit (HPM) -- was expected to restart in the fourth quarter, while closures remained in focus elsewhere in Europe.

** ExxonMobil permanently shut its Slagen refinery in Norway in June to convert the site into a fuel import terminal.

** Gunvor's Rotterdam refinery shuttered its two crude processing units, one in 2019 and the other in 2020, and is developing new processes around hydrogen and the coprocessing of vegetable oil.

** Gunvor's refinery in Antwerp is being mothballed, with terminal activities continuing at the site. Future development opportunities are being assessed.

** TotalEnergies said it would convert the Grandpuits refinery into a biofuel and plastics recycling complex, ending crude refining at the site in early 2021.

** Eni is evaluating the conversion of its Livorno refinery in northwest Italy into a biorefinery. Eni has already converted two of its Italian refineries and is looking to almost double its biorefining capacity to around 2 million mt/year by 2024, and expand that by at least five times by 2050, as part of a pledge to achieve complete carbon neutrality by 2050.

** Portugal's Galp said in April the last units at its Porto refinery should be stopped at the end of the month and decommissioning will then start, to be followed by decontamination. The company had said it would discontinue refining operations at the Porto refinery from 2021 and concentrate its core refining activities and future developments at the larger Sines refinery. The site at Porto will remain a logistics hub, with the company assessing other uses.

** Petroineos said its plan to transition the configuration of its UK Grangemouth refinery would be phased in during 2021. The company proposed a smaller refining operation at Grangemouth and plans to mothball the CDU1 and the FCC, two units that "have been closed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic due to significantly reduced local and international demand for fuels."

** Finland's Neste said it had discontinued refining operations at its smaller Naantali refinery at the end of March 2021. With Naantali shut down, the company will focus the site on terminal and harbor operations.

Separately, Greek refiner Hellenic said Aug. 26 its three refineries ran at a 103% utilization rate in Q2, compared with 102% a year earlier. The Aspropyrgos refinery's throughput totaled 1.937 million mt in Q2, while Elefsina processed 1.298 million mt and Thessaloniki 826,000 mt. It reported record exports which in Q2 amounted to 2.7 million mt and accounted for 67% of all sales. The high exports partially offset the "negative impact" of Mediterranean crude prices as well as the maintenance slowdown at the flexicoker at Elefsina due to power grid issues in February.

Demand for auto-fuels in Greece was 20% up in Q2 year on year, while June consumption approached 2019 levels. Bunkering demand was up 17% while aviation fuel consumption was down 72%.

Greece's Motor Oil Hellas has increased the throughput at its Corinth refinery to 4.586 million mt in H1 2021 up from 4.042 million mt in the year ago period as the refinery carried out a scheduled maintenance in January-February 2020. Meanwhile in the first half of 2021, the refinery benefited from continuous operation and increased sales by 11.6% to 6.451 million mt. It reported higher profits due to a "notable recovery" of the refining margins.

Israel's Bazan reported 78% utilization in H1, down from 85% in the year-ago period," mainly due to the adjustment of output to demand for distillates and to the refining margins that are still affected by the outcome of the COVID-19 crisis." The refinery's throughput was also impacted by the "malfunction in the continuous catalytic reformer facility." The CCR was halted in early May following a breakdown. The repairs took several weeks, it said. The refinery processed 4.289 million mt of feedstock in January-June 2021, including crude and heavy vacuum diesel, down from 4.53 million mt in H1 2020. In Q2 alone, its utilization was also 78%, compared with 80% a year ago, with throughput at 2.091 million mt, marginally lower from 2.097 million mt. Should the CCR malfunction had not occurred, its utilization would have been 81% in H1 and 82% in Q2. The company expects that if refining margins remain at the current level its Q3 refinery utilization could exceed 85%.

In other news, operations at France's Port Jerome-Gravenchon have not been affected by a fire early morning Sep. 7 which has been put out after 20 minutes, according to local media report citing the refinery. Meanwhile, France's Fos-sur-Mer had completed works that it carried out on some units this summer.

Separately, ExxonMobil's French downstream subsidiary Esso SAF said in a press release Sept. 16 that the combined throughput of its two refineries -- Port Jerome-Gravenchon and Fos-sur-Mer - increased in the first half of 2021 from the first half of 2020. Gravenchon and Fos processed a combined 7.5 million mt of crude oil in H1, up 2.7% year on year, while in H1 2019 it amounted to 7.6 million mt.

API's refinery in the Italian coastal town of Falconara Marittima had to go briefly offline after an electricity issue on Aug. 31. The refinery has also completed maintenance on the knockout drum of the vapor condensation unit.

In other news, product deliveries from France's Gonfreville refinery in Normandy could be affected by a strike called by the CGT labor union, the company said Sept. 20, adding that it would ensure the supply of its retail stations and its customers.

NEW AND ONGOING MAINTENANCE

Refinery
Capacity
Country
Owner
Unit
Duration
Sannazzaro
190,000
Italy
Eni
EST
2020
Castellon
110,000
Spain
BP
part
2020/2021
Tenerife
90,000
Spain
Cepsa
offline
Since 2014
Bratislava
122,000
Slovakia
MOL
part
2020
Duna
165,000
Hungary
MOL
part
2020
Fos
136,000
France
ExxonMobil
Part
Back
Livorno
84,000
Italy
Eni
Part
Sep
Batman
28,000
Turkey
Tupras
Full
Back
Bilbao
220,000
Spain
Repsol
Part
Back
Petromidia
100,000
Romania
KMG
Full
July
Fawley
270,000
UK
ExxonMobil
Part
Back
Wesseling
327,000
Germany
Shell
Part
Aug
Antwerp
320,000
Belgium
ExxonMobil
Part
Back
Ploiesti
48,000
Romania
Lukoil
Part
Sep
Burgas
190,000
Bulgaria
Lukoil
full
2021
Gothenburg
125,000
Sweden
Preem
full
2021

FUTURE MAINTENANCE

Petrobrazi
90,000
Romania
OMV
full
2022
Gdansk
210,000
Poland
Lotos
full
2022
Holborn
105,000
Germany
Oilinvest
full
2023
Sarpom
180,000
Italy
Joint
full
2021
Petromidia
114,000
Romania
Rompetrol
full
2024
Litvinov
108,000
Czech
Unipetrol
full
2024
Burghausen
76,000
Germany
OMV
part
2022
Ingolstadt
110,000
Germany
Gunvor
part
2022
Haifa
197,000
Israel
Bazan
part
2022
Burghausen
76,000
Germany
OMV
full
Q3,2022

Near-term maintenance

New and revised entries

** Spain's Bilbao began restarting its number 2 crude distillation unit which was halted last Nov. 20 in reaction to weaker market conditions, the company said Sept. 17. The units should be online over the weekend, the operator said. The halt, which included the visbreaking unit, meant the refinery's crude distillation was reduced by 40%. The restart was initially slated for October 1.

** Spain's La Coruna refinery will restart its last halted units in the week of Sept. 13, operator Repsol said Sept. 3. The coker and vacuum unit 2 were initially halted in April 2020 as fuel production slumped amid maximum travel restrictions in Spain. The remaining workers who had been laid off in July have also returned to work since the start of September, with their restart brought forward from October.

** ExxonMobil's Antwerp refinery was carrying out partial maintenance, according to market sources. Works started around mid-August and were due to be completed by the end of September.

** Lukoil's Neftochim refinery in Burgas, Bulgaria, is expected to carry out maintenance in Sep-Oct, according to market sources. The refinery which had scheduled major works for this year, has postponed them. The refinery typically carries out works in February and March but has deferred them to later in 2021. The works are expected to include atmospheric Vacuum Unit 1, Atmospheric Vacuum Unit 2, Atmospheric Vacuum Distillation 2, FCC, hydrotreatment, and hydrocracker, according to company tender documents.

** Romania's Petrotel is expected to carry out planned works this autumn at the Ploiesti site.

** The Wesseling part of the Rhineland refinery is starting maintenance from Aug.18 until early October. Preparations for the maintenance have been underway for three years, the refinery said. Flaring is possible during the units' shutdown between Aug.18-25. The Godorf site will continue to operate, according to a report in Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger. The Rhineland refinery consists of the Wesseling (south) and Godorf (north) sites.

** Production at Tupras's 28,000 b/d Batman refinery has been restarted, having been halted for nearly two months due to decreased demand, an industry source with knowledge of the subject told S&P Global Platts on Sept. 8. Tupras announced in late May that it was halting production at the plant from June 3, due to high stocks and a "decrease in regional demand for bitumen products," which constitute the bulk of the refinery's output, with production slated to restart by July 31. While the source said production was restarted July 31, the company has not issued a statement confirming the restart.

Existing entries

** Hungary's MOL expects to continue maintenance works at various units of the Danube and Bratislava refineries in the third quarter of 2021, having carried out smaller works throughout the second quarter, especially at the Danube refinery. The shutdowns are part of a more intense maintenance schedule at MOL this year, after several works were postponed in 2020 to control costs.

** Tupras reported that the maintenance of the FCC unit at Izmit, which was started in Q1 and scheduled to take 30 weeks, is ongoing. A periodic maintenance of the crude unit at Izmit is scheduled for two weeks in Q4. Planned periodic maintenance of the vacuum and lube units at Izmir, which had been scheduled for six weeks in Q4, have both been postponed until 2022.

** Italy's Livorno plans to carry out maintenance on its lubricant units in September, sources close to the matter said.

** Italy's Sannazzaro de Burgondi refinery has been taken partially offline for large-scale maintenance works. Maintenance and upgrade works are being carried out on the slurry technology (EST) unit, which was taken offline following a fire in 2016, as well as on the refinery's hydrocracking unit and the visbreaking plant. All units are expected to be kept offline for some 18 months. Eni's EST plant had originally been scheduled to restart in 2020.

** Spain's Castellon started maintenance in May, according to industry sources. BP Espana declined to comment. The refinery was due to carry out work in 2021 on the two distillation units, the powerformer, the HVN, the treatment plant and the 1.4 million mt/y 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.

** Sweden's Gothenburg refinery plans to carry out maintenance in Q4 2021.

** France's Lavera refinery is planning works at its FCC unit in September.

Future

Existing entries

** OMV is planning a turnaround at its Burghausen refinery in Germany during the third quarter of 2022. During this time, the entire refinery will be at a standstill, including the butadiene plant.

** Israel's Bazan said it has decided to delay the scheduled maintenance of the FCC at Haifa from Q2 2021 to the first half of 2022 when there will be also maintenance at all the Carmel Olefin facilities.

** Gunvor Group said that its Ingolstadt refinery in Germany will undertake projects focused on heating systems and exchangers "to continue improving its energy efficiency and reduce its emissions." A planned turnaround in 2023 will allow additional reductions, by carrying out projects on the FCC.

** Poland's second-largest refiner Grupa Lotos will carry the second part of the maintenance at its Gdansk refinery in the spring of 2022.

** Czech Unipetrol said that following the turnaround at its Litvinov plant in Q2'20 the refinery has prepared production for a new four-year cycle. Thus, the next turnaround is due in 2024.

** 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.

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

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