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REFINERY NEWS ROUNDUP: Market focus on closures in Europe

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REFINERY NEWS ROUNDUP: Market focus on closures in Europe

Permanent outages have defined the European refinery scene since last year, while Spanish refineries have been restarting after temporary shutdowns.

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** Petroineos' Grangemouth refinery in Scotland has seen its capacity reduced by 30% to around 150,000 b/d after the closures of a crude distillation unit, or CDU, and the fluid catalytic cracker, or FCC, earlier this year, Ineos' site chairman, Andrew Gardner, said Sept. 22. In January, the company concluded consultations with employees regarding its proposal to reconfigure the Grangemouth refinery in Scotland. The company has said previously that it proposes a smaller refining operation at Grangemouth and plans to mothball the CDU1 and the FCC, two units that "have been closed throughout the COVID pandemic due to significantly reduced local and international demand for fuels." Gardner said the CDU will not be restarted, while a "remarkable set of economics" would be required to restart the FCC because of a structural decline in European gasoline demand. "A lot of the gasoline from the FCC was higher sulfur, so it wasn't making its way into inland supply," he said. "It was more for upgrading and then getting sent further afield for blending."

** The Livorno refinery in northwest Italy will stop refining crude and suspend all related activities by the end of 2022, according to an announcement made to trade union representatives by its owner, Italian oil giant Eni, sources close to the plant told S&P Global Platts. The production of lubricants and ancillary activities will continue for the foreseeable future, according to the information. In January, Eni said that it was evaluating the conversion of Livorno into a biorefinery. A company source said in September that no decision had been taken yet.

** 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.

** 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.

** 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.

Some unplanned outages have affected refineries in Europe.

France's Feyzin has been forced to adapt operations at certain units following a fire at the crude distillation unit, the company said Oct. 5. The fire in the early hours of Oct. 4 was put out quickly with no casualties, the company said, adding it was ensuring supply to its service stations and customers. According to union sources, cited in local media reports, operations have been scaled down, with 30% halted already and more could follow.

Meanwhile, repair works at Romania's Petromidia refinery, which halted operations July 2 following a fire at a diesel hydrotreating unit, or HPM, are nearing completion, the company said Sep. 28. Rompetrol Rafinare has "completed most of the turnaround of the production units on the Petromidia platform and was performing the last technical checks in order to restart the production activity in conditions of maximum safety," it said in a statement. Units will be restarted in stages and are expected to reach "optimal operating efficiencies" by the end of October.

In other news, the strike at France's Gonfreville refinery in Normandy has resumed Sept. 27 after it was suspended in the week ended Sept. 25, according to a CGT source. The strike has been joined by staff at several secondary units, including the distillate hydrocracker, and is not affecting product deliveries, the source said. TotalEnergies said it would ensure the supply of its retail stations and customers.

The strike was called over the company's decision to sell the Normandy site's hydrogen production unit to Air Liquide. TotalEnergies has said the move is aimed to decarbonize the production of hydrogen in the Normandy area, adding that the project would strengthen the industrial competitiveness of the Normandy platform.

Separately, Essar Oil UK said that operations continue normally at its Stanlow refinery with no disruptions to supply while talks continue with the union. UK's Unite labor union said that its members have "overwhelmingly" voted for an industrial action at Stanlow in pay and pensions dispute but further talks are scheduled with Essar.

The owner of the UK's Stanlow refinery, Essar Oil UK, has previously said that it has reached an agreement with tax authorities on value added tax payment arrears, it said Sept. 28. In a statement, Essar noted it had agreed with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) "phased payment schedule" aligned with its revenues.

The company said that it is "confident of closing the last mile financings in the coming months after having successfully raised USD $1.1 billion earlier in the year."

Essar Oil UK also said Sept. 28 that throughout the pandemic it "continued to run its Stanlow refinery, instead of shutting it down, to ensure adequate fuel supply to its customers across the UK."

NEW AND ONGOING MAINTENANCE

Refinery
Capacity
Country
Owner
Unit
Duration
Sannazzaro
190,000
Italy
Eni
EST
2020
Tenerife
90,000
Spain
Cepsa
offline
Since 2014
Bratislava
122,000
Slovakia
MOL
part
2020
Duna
165,000
Hungary
MOL
part
2020
Bilbao
220,000
Spain
Repsol
Part
Back
Petromidia
100,000
Romania
KMG
Full
Back
Wesseling
327,000
Germany
Shell
Part
Back
Ploiesti
48,000
Romania
Lukoil
Part
Sep
Burgas
190,000
Bulgaria
Lukoil
full
2021
Gothenburg
125,000
Sweden
Preem
full
2021
Cartagena
220,000
Spain
Repsol
part
Oct

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
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 La Coruna is at full capacity after it restarted its coker and vacuum unit 2 in the week of Sept. 13, while temporary layoffs also ended. The coker and vacuum unit 2 were initially halted in April 2020 as fuel production slumped amid maximum travel restrictions in Spain.

** Spain's Petronor Bilbao started up in late September the visbreaking unit in plant 3 that has been offline since April 6, 2020, when Spain had its strictest COVID-19 restrictions. The company also said it has restarted its number 2 crude distillation unit, which was halted on Nov. 20, 2020, in reaction to weaker market conditions. The unit was restarted Sept. 16, around two weeks ahead of schedule. The halt of the two units meant the refinery's crude distillation was reduced by 40%. On Oct. 1, all workers laid off temporarily for reasons related to the pandemic will be back at work, the company said, meaning the refinery will be running with its full complement of staff and at full capacity. The Petronor refinery was restarting its halted G1 diesel desulfurization unit from Oct. 5 after a maintenance halt. The company did not say how long the unit, located in Plant 1, had been offline.

** Spain's Repsol said Sept. 30 it will invest Eur75 million ($87 million) in a planned halt, which includes a full turnaround of its conversion and hydrotreatment units at Cartagena including the coker -- Europe's largest. The work, the largest and most expensive in the refinery's history, was planned to start the weekend of Oct. 2 and last 50 days. The other refinery areas, such as the fuel and lubricants unit, which already underwent a maintenance earlier this year, will stay online. Besides the simultaneous work on all the conversion units, Repsol will carry out energy efficiency projects, which will result in a CO2 emission reduction of 68,000 mt/y. These include a new compressor in one of the flaring stacks, a new pre-heating unit in the topping unit's furnace and a new tower in that same location, the company said.

** The Wesseling part of the Rhineland refinery was in the process of restarting its units gradually in late September as its maintenance is being completed. Wesseling started maintenance Aug.18, scheduled to last until early October. Preparations for the maintenance have been underway for three years. Flaring is possible during the units' restart from Sept. 29. The Godorf site continued to operate. The Rhineland refinery consists of the Wesseling (south) and Godorf (north) sites.

** Scheduled maintenance at France's Lavera could have caused flaring until the end of last week, the company said Sept. 21. The refinery was planning works at its FCC unit in September, according to market sources. Separately, the refinery had to halt some units following a drop in power supply on Sept. 12, it informed the local Maritima newspaper.

Existing entries

** 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.

** 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 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.

** 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.

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.

** With its 2020 maintenance, Romania's Petromidia and the petrochemical division "will align with the new operating strategy, with a general turnaround scheduled for four years and technological shutdowns scheduled for two years," the company said.

** 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.