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Refinery news roundup: Autumn turnarounds underway in Europe

Planned refinery turnarounds in Europe have been ramped up, with refineries in both Northwest Europe and the Mediterranean undergoing works, coinciding with a large-scale maintenance in Russia.

A minor fire at the Dutch Zeeland refinery last week was brought under control quickly with no impact on operations.
Greek refiner Hellenic said that despite “a weak refining environment”

its Q2 results were positive “on account of continued strong refining performance,” adding that it posted “the highest petchems contribution on record.”

The international refining macro environment “deteriorated to its lowest level in the last five years,” Hellenic said in its Q2/H1 results, noting “multi-year low” benchmark refining margins and problems with Russian crude supplies due to contamination and the outage of the Druzhba pipeline.

The flexibility of its refineries “to process a wide range of crude grades” enabled “uninterrupted supply” and allowed it to “capture opportunities in medium/light crude pricing,” it said.

Of the IMO’s new 0.5% sulfur cap for bunker fuel, Hellenic said it is “on track with its plans to be able to deliver very low sulfur fuel oil by the beginning of 2020” and that the new bunker fuel could be available in November. It recently conducted an extensive test of new crude grades at the Aspropyrgos refinery, “yielding positive results, in terms of both quality and specs of the new 0.5% fuel oil, as well as the operation of the refinery’s conversion units,” it said. It plans to change the crude slate by processing more light crudes, such as Azeri, Saharan and some American crude, it said during a conference call.

All petrochemical units at Germany’s Burghausen refinery are gradually restarting following a technical incident and will be back in operation by Sunday, the company said late last week. First deliveries of propylene have also commenced, it said. Due to the incident on August 24, “no ethylene and butadiene are currently being delivered from the Burghausen refinery,” owner OMV said, adding that the facility’s customers have been informed. According to local media, the glitch occurred at the cooling system of the ethylene plant. During the restart, flaring can be expected.

–Maintenance of the FCC unit at Greece’s Corinth refinery will impact operations “for the second half of 2019”, the company said in its H1 report.

According to traders the maintenance will take place in September.

–There will be planned maintenance shutdown at Greece’s Elefsina refinery in Q4.

–Slovnaft said that its Bratislava refinery is in “full operation” after completing “its historically largest turnaround” on 21 production units. New projects implemented during the maintenance “are expected to contribute to the more efficient, reliable and safe operation of the refinery.” Maintenance will continue on three petrochemical units this autumn with part of the projects focusing on “reducing nitrogen emissions into atmosphere and on modernization”.

–The short halt of the fluid catalytic cracker unit at ExxonMobil’s Fos refinery didn’t have any impact on production and supply, the company said.

The unit at the Fos refinery in southern France was restarting early last week after the brief shutdown. The unit’s compressor was halted late on August 23 for safety reasons.

–The API refinery in the central Italian coastal town of Falconara Marittima has completed maintenance on its platforming and hydrogen 1 units, and these are now fully operational, a source close to the plant told S&P Global Platts. The maintenance work started in late July.

–Planned maintenance on Portugal’s Sines atmospheric distillation unit has started, with work due to last 40-50 days, a spokesman said in late August.

The company previously said it will use the halt to increase efficiency and conversion ability of the refinery, as well as 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, CEO Carlos Gomes da Silva said previously. 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 Godorf is preparing for the large-scale maintenance scheduled to start in September and last until mid October. It has previously said the works will be running from September 2 to October 10. The 327,000 b/d refinery consists of the Wesseling (south) and Godorf (north) sites. The maintenance includes shutdown, inspection, cleaning and repair of the facilities. Although a large part of the units will be halted, supply of products will not be affected “thanks to good planning and storage,” it said.

–The northern Scholven part of BP’s Gelsenkirchen refinery in Germany is in the process of undergoing its scheduled maintenance. The maintenance could result in flaring, the company said. Restart will begin in mid-October.

Various units would be shut down for around seven weeks. The refinery consists of the Horst and Scholven sites, with Horst representing around one-third of total capacity.

–Total’s Gonfreville refinery near Le Havre, France, is starting its scheduled maintenance September 4, the company said. The works will last around two months. The large-scale maintenance, which takes place once every seven years, follows the maintenance at the petrochemical site which took place last year. Preparations for the turnaround have been going on for the last three years.

–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. Separately, the refinery experienced more than a week of production disruptions in May, the company said in its second-quarter results. “In the beginning of May 2019, there were production disruptions at our Lysekil refinery related to leakage in our crude oil distillation unit. The unit was repaired and fully back in operation after 11 days of downtime,” the Stockholm headquartered group said.

–A topping unit at Russian energy giant Lukoil’s ISAB refinery in Sicily remains offline amid weak product demand, sources close to the refinery told S&P Global Platts in late August. The refinery had completed upgrades and ordinary maintenance on the unit at the northern plant in the past months, though it was not restarted “for market reasons,” the source said. At the time, it was indicated the timing of the maintenance works were related to market conditions. ISAB was not immediately available to comment. A turnaround is scheduled for the refinery’s southern plant in the autumn. Preparations for the maintenance will start in September, with the plant expected to go offline for some 40 days from October.

–A Topping 3 crude unit that had been under maintenance from June at the Milazzo refinery in Sicily was restarted in late July and is now operating as usual, trade union sources told S&P Global. The Topping 3 unit had been placed offline on June 21 for the upgrade and maintenance works. The plant is scheduled to carry out 45 days of maintenance work on its FCC unit and ancillary plants starting October 1, a source told S&P Global.

–Germany’s Bayernoil refinery in Bavaria, which was taken offline following an incident last September, is ramping up production, with a number of units back online, and the refinery getting back to normal, Russia’s Rosneft official said during an investor call for H1 results presentation. The reformer, fractionation and bitumen production units are already back on line and in September diesel capacity will be added. The refinery said previously that its restart began in May with the steam boiler and that the remaining units would be coming on stream over the course of the summer. The refinery was halted following an explosion in a unit at the Vohburg site and a subsequent fire in the early hours of September 1, 2018. Bayernoil consists of the Vohburg and Neustadt sites, which are closely interconnected.

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

–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.

–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.

–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.

–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 company spokesman said.

–Netherland’s 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.

–Poland’s second-largest refiner Grupa Lotos said the coking complex — a key element of its EFRA modernization program — was complete and ready for start-up with some facilities placed in service and some ready for testing and trials. “All facilities covered by the EFRA Project are scheduled to be commissioned by the end of Q4 2019. Engineering design, procurement and construction works under the EFRA Project have been completed,” Lotos said in its Q2 financial results. 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.

–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.

–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.
Source: Platts

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