London — Seasonal refinery maintenance is either set to begin or already underway in the Mediterranean and Northwest Europe, while plants are either starting or considering run cuts as middle distillate margins sink to new record lows triggered by the demand threat of the COVID-19 virus.
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NEW AND ONGOING MAINTENANCE, UPGRADES
NEW AND REVISED ENTRIES
–Italy's Taranto refinery is currently undergoing wide-scale maintenance and upgrade works that started in February and are expected to last some four weeks, according to a source close to the refinery. No information was provided on whether the refinery was offline, or if production levels had been affected. Taranto needs to bolster its refinery infrastructure ahead of the full start of Tempa Rossa crude extractions in the nearby region of Basilicata. The city of Taranto is in the Southern Italian region of Puglia.
–The shutdown procedure at a unit of France's Grandpuits refinery in early March has resulted in an odor of hydrocarbons, according to local media reports, citing the company. The company is investigating the causes of the smell, the company was quoted as saying.
–Romania's Petromidia is undergoing planned maintenance, according to traders. The plant had previously said it would carry out maintenance in 2020.
–Italy's Sarroch refinery in Sardinia started a scheduled heavy maintenance cycle in early March that will put the plant offline for around two months as upgrades are carried out, according to information from a source close to the refinery. Owner Saras was not immediately available for comment, although a presentation on its website indicated that the 2020 extraordinary maintenance cycle it has scheduled will be "concentrated" in the first half of the year. Sarroch's fluid catalytic cracker, alkylation unit and Topping 1 plant will carry out works usually carried out every six years between the first and the second quarter of the year, according to the document. In addition, the refinery plans to also carry out ordinary maintenance on its MHC2 unit, as well as its Visbreaking plant. The refinery's U400 and U500 units will also undergo upgrades, although it is not clear when this will occur. Sarroch said it was completing its investment cycle through 2021, after which "the refinery will operate at full capacity," according to the document. It also plans to carry out a planned 10-year turnaround on its IGCC in 2021, the company said in the document. In the first quarter of this year, expectations are for refinery runs of between 3.2 million-3.4 million mt, or 23 million-24 million barrels, with the same amount in the second quarter. In the third quarter, they are forecast at 3.7 million-3.9 million mt, or 27 million-28 million barrels, while the fourth quarter sees them expected to level out at 3.8 million-3.9 million mt, or 27 million-29 million barrels, according to the document on the Saras website.
–Greek refiner Hellenic will carry out works on its Aspropyrgos refinery in Q3 2020, the company said.
–Petronor said it was restarting the boiler in Plant 3 that was halted March 3-6 for maintenance. Plant 3 contains most of the refinery's conversion units.
–The crude distillation unit at the Gonfreville refinery near Le Havre will restart before the end of the year, the company said. Traders had said earlier that the unit was offline and the plant running at minimum rates following a fire at a pump feeding crude into the distillation unit in mid-December. In February, traders said the hydrocracker had been halted.
–Shell's Pernis refinery in the Netherlands is likely to start its scheduled maintenance in April, earlier than planned, according to market sources. The company declined to comment. It previously said the refinery was preparing for a major turnaround that will include several units, starting May 4 and lasting through June. Pernis – the largest refinery in Europe, with around 60 units including two CDUs – carried out major works on 13 units last February and March.
–Eni's Sannazzaro de Burgondi refinery in northern Italy is scheduled to place a large portion of the plant on maintenance starting from mid-March, according to information provided to S&P Global by a source close to the refinery. The maintenance and upgrade works are set to start around March 14-15, the source said, adding that they would involve "a very large portion of the refinery." No details on individual plants being placed under maintenance was available. Part of the works will involve testing and realigning plants that are required to run in alliance with the Sannazzaro's Eni slurry technology (EST), which was damaged by a fire in 2016 and has since been undergoing repair and upgrade works, inclusive of new technology being added to it. The EST units are scheduled to restart towards the end of March, the source said.
–CDU 1 at Gunvor Rotterdam refinery is due back online shortly, according to trading sources. The second CDU is expected to be offline for works until around mid-May. Gunvor halted CDU 1 at its Rotterdam refinery in November for economic reasons and also to prepare for an upcoming turnaround in March 2020, it said previously. The company was not available for comment. The refinery has 38,000 b/d and 50,000 b/d CDU units.
–The Netherlands' Zeeland refinery in Flushing is expected to start its planned maintenance around May, according to sources. The company declined to comment. During the maintenance it is expected to complete the upgrade of its hydrocracker. The refinery received last summer the third reactor for the hydrocracker's expansion. It started work in June 2018 on the expansion which includes adding a third reactor. The reactor will be connected to the existing installation in 2020.
–Lukoil's Neftochim refinery in Burgas, Bulgaria, is planning partial works in March, according to trading sources and company tender documents. The refinery is planning a major turnaround in 2021. The refinery typically carries out works around February-March.
–Germany's Ingolstadt started halting units gradually for maintenance planned from March 10-21, the company said. The main focus of the turnaround will be an inspection of the hydrogen system. Additional heat exchangers will also be installed as part of the district heating cooperation with an overall inspection of all units also planned.
–Turkey's Izmir refinery in Aliaga has reduced its buying of Siberian Light crude for March processing, trading sources said. The company declined to comment. In its latest financial report, Tupras said that work on the crude unit, which started late last year, was set to continue for six weeks into Q1.Separately, the refinery plans works on the continuous catalytic reformer for three weeks in Q1 and seven weeks in Q4, on the FCC unit for six weeks in Q1, on the isomerization unit for eight weeks in Q4 and on the MQD diesel desulfurization unit for seven weeks in Q4. Tupras said in an investor presentation that three of its four refineries are planning works over the course of 2020. Work on the crude oil and vacuum unit at Batman is set to last five weeks over Q1 and Q2 and work on the desulfurizer at Izmit will last seven weeks over the fourth quarter.
–The Falconara refinery, located in the Adriatic coastal town of Falconara Marittima, will restart after a more than 40-day maintenance outage, a source close to the refinery said. There has been no impact from the spread of COVID-19 on the plant's turnaround program, the source added. The maintenance involved work on all of the refinery's main units as part of the facility's usual five-year turnaround plan. Falconara Marittima, API's core asset, is a small-scale thermal cracking refinery with some hydrocracking capacity.
–Petroineos' Lavera refinery in France will undergo maintenance in March, trading sources said.
–French Feyzin started works for seven weeks from February 14, according to a company statement. All units were set to be cleaned and inspected.
–Croatia's Rijeka refinery is currently undergoing partial works, according to market sources. As a result the refinery has not been issuing tenders recently, said sources. The plant's operator, Hungary's MOL, said in its fourth-quarter earnings presentation it was planning only small-scale maintenance across its refineries in the rest of 2020, once an ongoing turnaround at its Rijeka refinery is completed before the end of the first quarter.
–Germany's Bayernoil will carry out works at its Neustadt site in March. The works are set to last between March 2 and April 6, the company said. Gradual shutdown started from February 25. Start-up operations are planned to start from March 26. Bayernoil consists of the Vohburg and Neustadt sites, which are closely interconnected. The refinery was taken offline for several months following an explosion at a unit at the Vohburg site and a subsequent fire on September 1, 2018. The Vohburg plant restart lasted between May and November 2019.
–Portugal's Galp Energia has started work on its Sines refinery aimed at helping the company reach its target of $1/b in extra margin by the end of the first half of 2020 when work is concluded, CEO Carlos Gomes da Silva said. The Sines refinery has scheduled regular maintenance activity for the first half of 2020 at its 43,000 b/d hydrocracker unit, which should last for 40-50 days, the company previously said.
–Planned maintenance is currently underway on several units at the Fawley refinery and the petrochemical site near Southampton, the company said. Works began on February 8 and are due to be completed in March.
–Finland's Neste will carry out a major turnaround in Porvoo in the second quarter set to last approximately 11 weeks. The maintenance "is estimated to have a negative impact on comparable operating profit", it said.
–Russian energy group Lukoil's ISAB refinery in Sicily will carry out maintenance in the March-April period, a source said. ISAB has in recent months been undergoing preparatory works at its Southern plant ahead of a planned turnaround that had been expected to start towards the end of 2019. The planned work was scheduled to last 6-7 weeks, and would 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 ISAB plant is made up of two refineries connected by a pipeline. The north and south plants operate as a single refinery after the two separate units were integrated in 2007.
–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, the company said. 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. A decarbonization program through to 2022 should see a reduction in carbon intensity of 25% compared with 2013 levels.
–Repsol's Coruna started a programmed halt in early January that will run to the end of March and will include the finalization of three CO2 emission reduction projects at the 1.7 million cu m/yr fluid catalytic cracker, among other work. Repsol will invest Eur64 million in the work. The work will mean halting six of the refinery's conversion units one by one. The projects will allow fuel savings and a CO2 reduction of 18,000 mt per year, Repsol said. 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 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.
–Germany's Mineraloelraffinerie Oberrhein (Miro) will carry out a major turnaround in 2021. It will invest Eur300 million ($332.6 million), with two-thirds going on new projects and a third for upgrading the existing plants during the turnaround. Last year, the refinery ran at 81.5% utilization due to planned and unplanned maintenance.
–Lukoil's Neftochim refinery in Burgas, Bulgaria, is planning a major turnaround in 2021, according to tender documents issued by the company. The refinery typically carries out works around February-March.
–Two months of maintenance at the Sarpom refinery in Trecate, Italy, originally scheduled for October have been pushed back to 2021, a source close to refinery operations said. 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, according to the source.
–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.
–Total will invest Eur150 million ($164 million) at its Leuna refinery in Germany. The investment into an upgrade project aims to reduce the production of heavy products 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. Work will continue until 2021, with the major part done in the 2020 major shutdown of the refinery.
–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
–Unipetrol will build a pyrolytic unit for waste-plastic processing at its plant in Litvínov. In it, it will be looking into chemical plastic recycling and the possibility of implementing it in standard production in the next three years. "Our ambition is to chemically recycle waste plastic not only from our nearest surroundings, but probably from the entire Czech Republic and potentially from other parts of Central and Eastern Europe within several years," said Tomáš Herink, board member of the Unipetrol Group.
–Hungary's MOL is looking to integrate and centralize its refining assets in Croatia, the company's vice president of downstream, Ferenc Horvath, said. In an interview with S&P Global Platts, Horvath said MOL's refining business in Croatia had been struggling due to overcapacity but ruled out a divestment of assets in the country, saying the focus will instead be on the "integration or centralization" of its Rijeka and Sisak plants. The Rijeka plant will be developed into an efficient and complex refinery while in the Sisak plant will concentrate on making specialty industrial products like lube oils, LPG and biofuels. In December, 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, renovation of existing refinery units, and the construction of a new port for the closed storage of petroleum coke. Last year, 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.
–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 increase "the yield of high-margin products as a result of in-depth conversion of vacuum residue" from the CDU, the company said. It had said previously the visbreaker will allow the refinery to reduce fuel oil output and increase its production of distillates. The unit 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, the company told S&P Global Platts. The delivery of the first column for the complex, which has been under construction since the summer of 2019, is due this month. The Eur64 million project is aimed at expanding the petrochemical part of the refinery in order to "secure the future of the site", Burghausen said.
–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. NIS has already worked with Lummus on the mild hydrocracker and hydrotreater complex, which was part of the first stage of modernization. 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. 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.
–Repsol has not yet confirmed if it had started work on a lubricants unit at the Cartagena refinery Ilboc plant alongside South Korean partner SKSol, after the environmental go-ahead was received at the end of November from the regional government. It will invest Eur300 million over the next four years 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 awarded an EPC contract to TechnipFMC for the construction of a new naphtha treatment complex at its Corinth refinery, according to a TechnipFMC statement. Motor Oil Hellas said in 2019 that the new complex, which will contribute to increased production of gasoline, kerosene and hydrogen, is scheduled for completion in 2021. The complex with 22,000 b/d capacity will include three units: naphtha hydrotreater, platformer and isomerization, the statement said. It will allow the refinery to increase its production of Euro 5 gasoline.
–Gunvor is studying the potential installation of an HVO (hydrotreated vegetable oil) at the Rotterdam refinery.
–Repsol's Coruna will shut the calcination unit at the start of 2020 due to technological obsolescence. During the course of 2020, a new distillation unit will be installed to produce polymer grade propylene. The unit should come online by the end of 2020.
–Bosnia's Brod refinery will start production from the middle of 2020 by which time its reconstruction will be completed. The refinery is currently being reconstructed. A pipeline, currently 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 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. The column 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. 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.
–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 plans to construct a hydrocracker at the site. 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. A second column has been delivered for the project which is planned to be carried out this spring.
–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 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 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. 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. 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. 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. The completion is expected for Q2 2020.
–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.
–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.
–Dutch Hes International (former Hestya Energy) aims to start operations at the LSFO plant at the currently 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 for 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 which will process 1.6 million mt/year shale oil and produce 1.5 million mt/year products will help Estonia "to export fuel with up to five times less sulfur content than is permitted in the world," Hando Sutter, Chairman of the Management Board of Eesti Energia, said in the statement. 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.