Refinery news roundup: Works continue in Europe
Some turnarounds are continuing in Northwest Europe and the Mediterranean, although most scheduled works have been drawing to a close.
Greek refiner Hellenic said that its performance in the third quarter was “positively affected by improved refining environment, despite weaker benchmark refining margins compared to historical highs recorded in recent years, as well as the restoration of the Russian crude oil supply infrastructure in Central Europe.”
Regarding the International Maritime Organization’s new 0.5% sulfur cap for bunker fuel, Hellenic said test runs for new IMO-compliant fuel have been completed at its Aspropyrgos refinery.
Aspropyrgos is planning “its transition to the new operating model in November” regrading the IMO regulation, and that a “material part of feedstock required to operate the new model has already been secured”.
It has previously said that it planned to change the crude slate by processing more light crudes, such as Azeri, Saharan and some American crude. Hellenic’s three refineries ran at a 108% utilization rate in Q3, down 2% from 111% a year before, it said. Aspropyrgos throughput was 2.044 million mt in Q3, versus 1.31 million mt at Elefsina and 919,000 mt at Thessaloniki.
NEW AND REVISED ENTRIES
–Scheduled maintenance at a unit of the Wesseling plant this week could cause flaring and noise, the refinery said. The 327,000 b/d refinery consists of the Wesseling site in the south and Godorf in the north. Rhineland has works at the Godorf site from September 2 to October 10. Maintenance at the Godorf site of the Rhineland refinery has been completed, the company said in mid October.
–Units at the northern Scholven part of BP’s Gelsenkirchen refinery in Germany, which has been undergoing scheduled maintenance since late August, are gradually coming back online from last week with flaring likely in the coming days, the refinery said. The refinery consists of the Horst and Scholven sites, with Horst representing around one-third of total capacity.
–Shell Pernis refinery in the Netherlands took a unit offline in early November for planned maintenance, which resulted in flaring and noise. The refinery also took a unit offline on Friday for repair after a gas leak. The start-up of the unit may result in flaring. Also last week, the refinery took a unit off for planned maintenance, which resulted in flaring and noise.
–Spain’s Petronor halted a boiler in plant 3 between November 5-8 without affecting production, it said in a note on its website. Plant 3 contains the majority of the refinery’s conversion units. It also halted crude unit 2, desulfurization unit G4 from November 2 and hydrogen unit H4 at the Bilbao site from November 7 for maintenance. The duration of the works was not specified. The FCC unit at the Bilbao refinery was halted for maintenance work over October 22-24. In July, Bilbao completed a maintenance period at its Bilbao site, which included halting crude unit 1, the larger of its two units with a 7 million mt/year capacity.
–The FCC unit at Italy’s Milazzo refinery and the plant’s topping 3 plant are currently undergoing maintenance works scheduled to be completed on November 20, according to information provided by a source close to the refinery. The upgrade works on both plants in the refinery, located in the southern Italian island of Sicily, began in October. The FCC maintenance, which includes upgrade works on the unit’s ancillary plants, was originally scheduled to last some 45 days and finish at the end of November. The company wasn’t immediately available to comment. Milazzo’s LC-Finer unit, which removes sulfur from feedstock and was placed offline after suffering a fire in September, restarted operations in October.
–Strike at France’s Feyzin refinery, which started October 7, continues, with trucks exit from the site blocked, according to local media reports. The refinery started halting operations in October after a strike was announced about a planned indefinite closure of a unit due to lower product demand, but part of it remains online, a CGT source said. Feyzin has been 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 per month. As a result of closing the position of a unit operator, seven people would lose their jobs, but would be offered other jobs within the organization, the company said. Total said previously the refinery hopes talks will resume, since there would be no job losses as a result of the project.
–Maintenance works at the FCC unit at Norway’s Mongstad refinery is still ongoing, the company said in early November. Planned maintenance at the plant has been ongoing since September.
–The entry and exit points to Russian energy giant Lukoil’s ISAB refinery in Sicily were blocked by outsourced workers striking since November 6 over legal issues related to third-party companies providing services to the plant, a source close to the refinery told S&P Global Platts. The protesting workers were demonstrating in front of the entry point to ISAB’s two refinery units, the North and South plants, preventing all trucks from entering or exiting the complex, the source said. It wasn’t immediately clear if refinery production had been affected by the action. ISAB is currently undergoing preparatory works at its South plant ahead of a planned turnaround expected to start towards the end of the year. The current 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.
–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.
–Israel’s Ashdod refinery has completed its partial maintenance which was scheduled to run from October 20 until November 10, a source close to the refinery said. Units are now in restart mode and expected to be back online this week. The works were concentrated on the FCC unit, with activity also taking place on the hydrodesulfurization units and decoking of the visbreaker. The refinery’s CDU continued operating. The maintenance was also aimed to upgrade the FCC into an RFCC unit which will process more fuel oil and will provide the refinery with the flexibility to reduce its fuel oil yield to 6% from 16%-18%%, which will limit the refinery’s exposure to the potential decline of HSFO demand following the IMO 0.5% sulfur cap on marine fuel from 2020. The upgrade will also allow the refinery to diversify its crude slate and include heavier crudes and also benefit from the expected improvement of the gasoline cracks.
–Greek refiner Hellenic said in early November it has completed the full turnaround at its Elefsis (Elefsina) refinery, with units currently in start-up mode. The turnaround involved “extended maintenance at all units”, it said, adding that works “are now concluded and the refinery will resume operations in the next days.” New ETBE units tie-in at Aspropyrgos is scheduled for Q4. There will be a planned maintenance shutdown at Greece’s Elefsina refinery in the fourth quarter. Hellenic’s three refineries ran at a 108% utilization rate in Q3, down from 111% a year before, it said. Aspropyrgos throughput was 2.044 million mt in Q3, versus 1.31 million mt at Elefsina and 919,000 mt at Thessaloniki.
NEW AND ONGOING MAINTENANCE, UPGRADES UPDATE
–Italy’s Sarroch announced it would run minor maintenance on its 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.
–Repsol will invest Eur20 million in an upcoming 1-1/2 months halt for maintenance and upgrade work on several units at its Puertollano refinery in central Spain, it said. It did not give a specific start date for the work. 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 the competitiveness of the units. The company will also carry out digitalization projects which will allow supervisors and inspectors to give 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 marine fuel regulations. The company is due to carry out turnarounds at the cracker and chemical derivative plants at the end of 2020.
–The UK’s Fawley refinery “has shut some of its units and associated operations” for planned maintenance that started September 24, the company said.
–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.
–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.
–Total’s Gonfreville refinery near Le Havre, France, started its scheduled maintenance September 4. 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.
–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.
–In early 2020, Repsol will invest Eur69 million ($75 million) in four projects at A Coruna 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 towards the end of next year, Repsol 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.
–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.
–Bosnia’s Brod refinery will start using natural gas to fuel its internal processes from Q3 2020, operator Optima Group, part of Russia’s Zarubezhneft said in a statement. The company is in the process of signing agreements and selecting a contractor to carry out construction and installation work for putting in place a gas supply network and connecting to Croatia’s gas system. 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.
–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 vacuumdistillation 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 toproduction 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 this year 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 refineryconsists 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.
–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 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.