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Refinery news roundup: Some maintenance ongoing in Europe

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Refinery news roundup: Some maintenance ongoing in Europe

London — Some turnarounds are still continuing in Northwest Europe, including at Fawley and Mongstad, and the Mediterranean, although most scheduled works have been drawing to a close. The strike at France's Feyzin has also finished with the refinery in the process of restart.

Separately, Romania's Rompetrol said it has tripled the output of Jet A1 at its Petromidia refinery over the last 12 years from 95,000 mt in 2007 to 317,000 mt in 2018. The rising output was attributed to investment "programs aimed at modernizing and increasing the annual capacity of the Petromidia refinery," the company said, adding that Petromidia has reached an 11.4 level of complexity. In 2019, it expects jet output to exceed 390,000 mt. "The expected quantity for 2019 could fuel a non-stop flight of more than 6,300 days (over 17 years) of a Boeing 737 aircraft, the most widespread aircraft in the world, with an average consumption of approximately 75,000 l/day," it said. In January-September the refinery has produced 312,000 mt of jet.

NEW AND REVISED ENTRIES

--Gunvor has halted CDU1 at its Gunvor Petroleum Rotterdam refinery for economic reasons and also to prepare for an upcoming turnaround in March 2020. The shutdown of the unit will not affect other units at the plant. The refinery has a 38,000 b/d and 50,000 b/d CDU units. "While it isn't currently economical to run CDU1, Gunvor is taking the opportunity of having the unit shut to conduct preparation for an upcoming refinery turnaround and some potential future developments," the company said adding that following the turnaround "we will be building on synergies between our Rotterdam and Antwerp refineries to produce LSVGO."

--French Donges refinery has restarted a unit after maintenance earlier in November, the refinery said on its website. Traders said the fluid catalytic cracking unit at the refinery, which had earlier been undergoing maintenance, is now fully back up. Donges carried out large-scale maintenance on part of the plant earlier this year.

Apart from major maintenance, it carries out planned turnarounds on individual units each year, it said.

--Shell's Pernis refinery in the Netherlands said repair on a unit has been successfully completed. The repair caused flaring for a few days last week.

--Spain's Petronor has said it is restarting the H4 hydrogen unit at the refinery December 2, which was halted November 22 for maintenance. Spain's Petronor said in late November it was restarting the FCC unit at Bilbao as well as related units. The FCC was halted November 15. The NF3 desulfurization unit as well as the Energy Recovery Unit and Turbo Expander were halted, related to the FCC. The refinery owner Repsol has brought forward maintenance work during this year to prepare its refining complex to produce fuel compliant to IMO 2020 regulations.

--The strike at France's Feyzin refinery has ended last week and the untis are progressively restarting, the company confirmed Monday. Union sources said last week that the refinery was about to restart after the strike has been called off. The strike at Total's Feyzin refinery in eastern France, which started October 7, was in protest against a planned indefinite closure of a unit due to lower product demand.

--Planned partial maintenance at UK's 270,000 b/d Fawley refinery is still ongoing. It shut down some of its units and associated operations for planned maintenance that started September 24.

--Repsol's refinery at Puertollano has started planned maintenance in late November, which is due to conclude in December, next month, a company spokesman said. Repsol said it would invest Eur20 million in the halt. The maintenance and upgrade work will last one-and-a-half months, the company said, affecting several units. The company will invest 40% of the funds in CO2 reduction projects, including in the distillation area, where the objective is increased energy efficiency. This includes a new air heating system for the crude furnace and the substitution of the insulation of the catalytic reformer with ceramic fiber, which will aid in reducing heat loss through the sides of the furnace. Other work will affect conversion units, with upgrades to increase security, reliability and competitiveness of the units. The company will also carry out digitalization projects that will allow supervisors and inspectors to provide real-time updates on the work and inspections. The halt is part of Repsol's overall strategy to prepare all of its refineries for the new IMO 2020 shipping oil regulations. The company is due to carry out turnarounds at the cracker and chemical derivative plants at the end of 2020.

--Maintenance of the FCC unit at Greece's Corinth refinery has been completed at the end of October. It was scheduled for the second half of 2019.

EXISTING ENTRIES

--Tupras said that two of its refineries are planning works in the fourth quarter -- Izmir at a crude distillation unit, hydrocracker and vacuum unit, set to last 2-3 weeks, and Izmit at a CDU and vacuum units for 7-8 weeks and at an FCC for 5-6 weeks. Earlier this year, Izmir had carried out works on a reformer in the first quarter and Batman also carried out works on a crude and vacuum units in Q1. The company said in an investor presentation that it plans revamp of a crude unit and FCC modernization as part of its ongoing projects, without specifying further details. Tupras said that its four refineries operated at a capacity utilization of 98.3% during the first nine months of the year compared to 95% over both the same period in 2018 and the first half of this year. The company's Izmir refinery in 2018 closed for scheduled maintenance for an extended period, while this year the fuel oil conversion unit at the company's Izmit refinery was closed for maintenance between February 26 and May 13.

--Lukoil's ISAB refinery in Sicily is currently carrying out preparatory works at its Southern plant ahead of a planned turnaround expected to start towards the end of the year. The works will last between six and seven weeks, and involve a series of activities including testing and upgrade of the refinery control and management instruments and the substitution of damaged or obsolete equipment and pipelines.

--The restart of the FCC unit at Italy's Milazzo refinery and the plant's topping 3 plant will be delayed from November 20 to late November because scheduled works which began in October were ongoing, a source close to the refinery said. The FCC maintenance, which includes upgrade works on the unit's ancillary plants, was originally scheduled to last 45 days and finish at the end of November.

--Maintenance works at the FCC unit at Norway's Mongstad refinery is still ongoing, the company said. Planned maintenance at the plant has been ongoing since September.

--Spanish petrochemicals group Repsol confirmed its 700,000 mt/year Tarragona, Spain, ethylene cracker is expected to start up at the end of November from a planned maintenance. The plant began its turnaround at the start of October, the company spokesperson said.

--Italy's Sarroch announced it would run minor maintenance on its North Plants and its RT2 unit, as well as its Vacuum V1 and VisBreaking VSB plant, in the fourth quarter, according to information provided in a statement.

The refinery carried out "heavy maintenance" in the first quarter of the year including upgrades on its T2 and V2 units, Sarroch said. Work was carried out on its Gasifier-Combined Cycle Turbine and on one of the plant's two gas washing line trains during the course of the first half of the year, Saras said.

--Scheduled maintenance has started at BP's Lingen refinery in north Germany, the company said. Work will last from October 21 until November 30 and will be on part of the refinery, BP said, without giving details on what units will be affected.

--The Canary Islands' only refinery Tenerife will be permanently closed in the long term. The dismantling of the site was due to begin at the start of 2019. As of September 30, no dismantling has begun, according to local press reports. The company did not comment. There has been no production since 2014 at the site. Cepsa will install some logistics and storage facilities at the site, amid a wider regeneration project.

--Galp CEO Carlos Gomes da Silva has said a shutdown may be necessary at the Porto, Matosinhos, plant at end 2019 or early 2020 for less than three weeks for the atmospheric distillation unit, where it needs to install heat exchanges.

--Eni's Sannazzaro de Burgondi refinery in northern Italy, has delayed the restart of its Eni slurry technology (EST) unit to an unspecified date later in the year from around September, a source said. The company was not available to comment. Repairs on two EST plant units damaged by a fire in 2016 have been ongoing, with new technology being added to the plant during the works. Eni built the EST plant near Pavia, in the Po valley in northern Italy, to convert heavy oil residues into gasoline and diesel products. The unit accounts for 10%-15% of total throughput at the refinery under normal conditions. Eni's Sannazzaro will start maintenance work on its Line 2 between September and October, sources said. It completed maintenance on its Line 1 in June, with works primarily focused on its vacuum and hydrocracking units.

FUTURE

NEW AND RECVISED ENTRIES

--Repsol's Coruna announced a halt between January and the end of March which will include the finalization of three CO2 emission reduction projects at the Fluid Catalytic Cracker among other work. The company will invest Eur64 million in the work, it said. These should allow fuel savings and a CO2 reduction of 18,000 mt/year, Repsol said. The work will mean halting six of the refinery's conversion units, it said. The first project (G-52) will be directed towards energy efficiency and CO2 reduction, while G-53 will reduce the atmospheric particle emissions from 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 follows a previous halt in Q2 2019 which was used for environmental upgrades and efficiency projects on the conversion units. The work will also see 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.

EXISTING ENTRIES

--Italy's Sarroch refinery will carry out large-scale maintenance works on its plant on the Italian island of Sardinia in the first and second quarter of 2020, CEO Dario Scaffardi said. Next year "will be year in which...we plan to complete our six-year maintenance cycle of core conversion units," Scaffardi said. Saras will be carrying out upgrade works on its FCC units, and also finalize the switching of accessory units from current steam and fuel-oil powered units to electric ones. The full maintenance schedule for next year will announced when the fourth quarter results are unveiled, Scaffardi said.

--Finland's Neste will carry out a major turnaround in Porvoo in Q2 2020. The works are set to last approximately 11 weeks.

--Repsol at Puertollano in will carry out turnarounds at the cracker and chemical derivative plants at the end of 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.

--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 3-4 years -- a source close to the refinery said.

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

--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.

UPGRADES

NEW AND REVISED ENTRIES

--Gunvor is studying the potential installation of an HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil) at the Rotterdam refinery "which would take advantage of an excess of "blue" hydrogen from the reformer" and is attractive from an environmental point of view as the hydrogen "is not produced from burning natural gas". Gunvor noted that it is "focusing more on biofuels, as we recently purchased two biofuels plants in Spain."

--Repsol's Coruna will shut 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 2020, a new distillation unit will also be installed to produce polymer grade propylene, with an investment of Eur29 million, it said. The unit should come online by the end of 2020. It will produce an additional 21,000 mt of propylene per year with improved purity. The project G-55 involves the installation of a new 80-meter splitter and overall capacity for polymer grade propylene will increase to 81,000 mt. Work is ongoing on a new crude reception terminal - work began in the fourth quarter of 2018 and is programed to conclude in H1 2020. A multi product pipeline will also be installed with11 underground tubes -- two to transport crude oil between the refinery and the new maritime terminal in the outer port and the remaining nine for petroleum products. The new installations are part of a project to move the unloading operations of crude oil to the outer port area, affording greater access to larger tankers that are unable to enter the existing facilities. The entire projects should be concluded by 2027.

--PKN has approved a Zloty 1 billion ($254.8 million) project to build a visbreaking unit at Plock. The company said the visbreaker will allow the refinery to reduce fuel oil output and increase its production of distillates.

"Now we are entering the next, very important stage of the implementation of one of the key investments for us, which is the construction of the Visbreaking installation in Plock. It will enable even more efficient processing of oil, and as a consequence will increase profits and increase their stability," PKN's CEO Daniel Obajtek said in a statement. Previously, PKN has said the visbreaker will allow product yield to increase by 1,200 mt/day. New regulations introduced by the International Maritime Organisation that take effect next year cut sulfur level emissions from ships, which is expected to reduce demand for fuel oil. It has previously said it aims to complete the new visbreaker unit by the end of 2020.

--Bosnia's Brod refinery will start production from the middle of next year by which time its reconstruction will be completed, according to local media report citing the regional energy minister. The refinery is currently being reconstructed, the report also said. A pipeline, currently being built to supply it with natural gas to fuel its internal processes, is expected to be ready from Q3 2020, operator Optima Group, part of Russia's Zarubezhneft said previously. The refinery suspended its operations in 2019 for an upgrade and to prepare for the use of natural gas, Zarubezhneft said in May. The gas will replace fuel oil as a power source for the refinery processes.

EXISTING ENTRIES

--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, with lighter and lower sulfur products, according to media reports. The column, which will also reduce the refinery's energy consumption, will start operations in the second quarter of 2020.

--Poland's Grupa Lotos said its EFRA modernization program was almost complete, with all units now commissioned apart from the delayed coking unit (DCU), which is undergoing testing. In September, the company introduced feedstock into the DCU and the unit was put into operation, with the first naphtha, light coker gas oil and heavy coker gas oil already produced. Test runs with the participation of the contractor, licensors and financiers are planned as the next step, Lotos said in a management report of its Q3 results. The key elements of the EFRA project are the coking complex, comprising the DCU, 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.

--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 said it was obliged to carry out additional safety work at the site due to the weak mechanical resistance of the earth. According to local press reports, citing the San Roque Council, these works were outside of the agreed plans. Cepsa sad it had sent its plans to the local environmental councillor and Spain's Ecological Transition Ministry and was awaiting all these approvals to start work on the project. The company plans to construct a hydrocracker at the site to adapt it to production of lighter products by increasing the conversion factor and to increase output of gasoline blending components. The upgrades are targeted for completion by 2022, adding $1.40/b to the company's refining margin and increasing refining capacity by 36,000 b/d. Diesel output should increase from 40% to 55% once the project is concluded. Separately, Cepsa will revamp Isomax, fluid catalytic cracker, alkylation units at San Roque and will construct a methylene unit (Sorbex II) which will double production capacity, investing as much as Eur1 billion through to 2019 as it aims to boost conversion rate and improve technology and sustainability.

--At A Coruna, in early 2020, Repsol will invest Eur69 million in four projects that will upgrade the fluid catalytic cracker and increase the refinery's production of polymer grade propylene. The company has received licenses from local authorities to carry out the work on its conversion units. 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 from 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. Besides the work on the conversion units, Repsol announced it will spend Eur29 million of 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 toward the end of next year, Repsol said. The company is targeting output of 21,000 mt/year of polymer grade propylene. Work is ongoing on a new crude reception terminal -- work began in the fourth quarter of 2018 and should in H1 2020. A multi-product pipeline will also be installed with 11 underground tubes -- two to transport crude oil between the refinery and the new maritime terminal in the outer port and the remaining nine for petroleum products. The new installations are part of a project to move the unloading operations of crude oil to the outer port area, affording greater access to larger tankers that are unable to enter the existing facilities. The entire projects should be concluded by 2027.

--The delayed coker at Croatia's INA is due to be completed in three years, according to local media report. A contract for the construction of the unit at Rijeka should be signed by the end of the year, the report said, citing company officials who spoke at the refinery open day. Separately, INA said on its website that after the "largest overhaul" of the refinery which was carried out in the first half of 2019, "operational processes and energy efficiency were improved and facilities were more reliable". Croatia's INA has previously said it 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 plans to invest more than HRK 4 billion ($615 million) in the 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." Commissioning is earmarked for 2023.

--Germany's Schwedt is in the process of upgrading its aromatics complex, according to local media reports. A second column has been delivered for the project which is planned to be carried out next spring. Earlier in 2019 it carried a CDU upgrade during its planned maintenance.

--Construction of the delayed coker at the Pancevo refinery will be completed in 2019, Kirill Tyurdenev, the managing director of NIS, said in Gazprom Neft's in-house magazine. The launch of the complex, which would increase the depth of processing above 99% and increase gasoline and diesel output, will help the refinery halt fuel oil output and hence help the country limit the use of HSFO especially in view of the IMO 2020 sulfur cap on marine fuel.

The refinery will also produce coke for use in the metallurgy and construction industry. Currently Serbia imports coke but the Pancevo refinery output will cover domestic demand and also allow for some exports. The refinery processes the light Novy Port crude oil, among others, which when blended provides a good yield. Crude is transported to the refinery via the JANAF pipeline from the Omisalj Terminal in Croatia.

--Repsol said that at the Cartagena refinery it will invest Eur300 million over the next four years on increasing the capacity of the lubricants unit and increasing production of second generation biofuels. The first phase, the lubricants, is scheduled to start in 2019 at the Ilboc plant alongside Korean partner SKSol. The biofuels upgrade would take place at the nearby Escombreras facility, and will result in production of 250,000 mt/year of second-gen biofuel from around 2022.

--Greece's Motor Oil Hellas has approved an investment project for the construction of a new naphtha treatment complex at its Corinth refinery, it said in its 2019 H1 report. The new complex, which will contribute to increased production of gasoline, kerosene and hydrogen, is scheduled for completion in 2021.

--Swedish refiner Preem is "evaluating a potential investment in a residue hydrocracking plant" at the Lysekil refinery, it said. The investment would be aimed to "upgrade as much heavy oil as possible into sulfur-free gasoline and diesel fuels to help meet rising demand after IMO 2020," a spokesman said.

--The Netherlands' Zeeland refinery has had the third reactor for the hydrocracker's expansion delivered. 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.

--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," Frans Dumoulin, director of the Shell Rheinland Refinery, said. "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.

--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, subject to a local planning approval, was 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 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.

--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. Total said the refinery hopes talks will resume, since there would be no job losses as a result of the project.

LAUNCHES

EXISTING ENTRIES

--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 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, elza.turner@spglobal.com

-- Edited by James Leech, james.leech@spglobal.com