REFINERY NEWS ROUNDUP: More companies in Europe eye biofuels, hydrogen – S&P Global

London — Spanish oil company Repsol sees biofuels as a near-term option for the maritime and aviation industries as they adapt to meet climate goals, with synthetic fuels as a potential option after 2030, Luis Cabra, head of Repsol’s technology and sustainability business, told S&P Global Platts in an interview.

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“In the short-term to mid-term, we see biofuels, advanced biofuels as a good option for shipping and aviation,” Cabra said. After 2030, one technology which could take off is synthetic fuels, namely decarbonized fuel produced from captured CO2 and renewable hydrogen, he said.

Repsol plans to adapt its current refineries to sites generating renewable energy and the company is investing in its Bilbao refinery to demonstrate “that this technology may eventually become competitive,” Cabra said.

Separately, Italy’s largest utility Enel and oil major Eni have agreed to jointly develop 20 MW of electrolysis capacity to supply hydrogen to two of Eni’s Italian refineries. The two pilot projects will involve electrolyzers of 10 MW in each case and are expected to start generating green hydrogen by 2022 or 2023, the companies said. Eni did not specify which refineries are to host the projects.

“The electrolyzers will be located near two of the Eni refineries where green hydrogen appears to be the best decarbonization option,” the companies said in the statement.

Eni’s other hydrogen plans include a large carbon capture and storage project around Ravenna to create one of Europe’s biggest CO2 stores and blue hydrogen hubs, while at its biorefinery in Porto Marghera, Venice, it is working with NextChem on a possible waste-to-hydrogen production plant.

UPGRADES

Gdansk

210,000

Poland

Lotos

Conventional

2020

Plock

326,000

Poland

PKN Orlen

Conventional

2020

Litvinov

108,000

Czech

Unipetrol

Conventional

2020

Petromidia

114,000

Romania

Rompetrol

Conventional

2022

Burgas

190,000

Bulgaria

Lukoil

Conventional

NA

Orlen Lietuva

204,000

Lithuania

PKN Orlen

Conventional

NA

Pancevo

98,000

Serbia

NIS

Conventional

2024

Rijeka

90,000

Croatia

INA

Conventional

2023

Sisak

44,000

Croatia

INA

Bioethanol

NA

Brod

108,000

Bosnia

Optima

Conventional

2020

Donges

219,000

France

Total

Conventional

2023

Grandpuits

101,000

France

Total

Renewables

2024

Huelva

220,000

Spain

Cepsa

Conventional

NA

San Roque

245,000

Spain

Cepsa

Conventional

2019

Cartagena

220,000

Spain

Repsol

Biofuel

2020

Bilbao

220,000

Spain

Repsol

Hydrogen

2024

Haifa

197,000

Israel

Bazan Group

Expansion

NA

Corinth

180,000

Greece

Motor Oil

Conventional

2021

Fawley

270,000

UK

ExxonMobil

Conventional

2021

Pembroke

220,000

UK

Valero

Conventional

2021

Humber

221,000

UK

Phillips66

Renewables

2021

ISAB

321,000

Italy

Lukoil

Conventional

NA

Leuna

230,000

Germany

Total

Conventional

2021

Schwedt

230,000

Germany

Joint

Conventional

NA

Miro

310,000

Germany

Joint

Hydrogen

2021

Heide

90,000

Germany

Klesch

Hydrogen

NA

Lingen

96,000

Germany

BP

Hydrogen

2024

Rhineland

327,000

Germany

Shell

Hydrogen

2021

Schwechat

192,000

Austria

OMV

Biofuel

NA

Brofjorden

220,000

Sweden

Preem

Renewables

NA

Porvoo

260,000

Finland

Neste

Renewables

2023

Cressier

68,000

Switzerland

Varo

Conventional

2020

Rotterdam

88,000

Netherlands

Gunvor

Biofuel

NA

LAUNCHES

Nazli

28,000

Turkey

Ersan

launch

2022

Aliaga

NA

Turkey

Steas

launch

NA

NA

NA

Estonia

Eesti Energia

Launch

2024

Conventional upgrades

New and revised entries

** Poland’s second largest refiner, Grupa Lotos, said Dec. 8 it has commissioned a hydrogen recovery unit at Gdansk that will produce an additional 70,000 mt of LPG, 43,000 mt of heavy naphtha, 39,000 mt of light naphtha and almost 9,000 mt of hydrogen a year. The HRU, which produces the products from hydrogen that is burned in the plant’s fuel gas network, cost Zloty 180 million ($49 million) and was launched on Dec. 5. The HRU cools feedstock gas to a temperature low enough to separate the hydrogen from the hydrocarbon blend, which are then subsequently liquefied. The unit was originally scheduled to be commissioned in the first half of this year but it was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, technical issues and the limited availability of specialists for the start-up operations. Grupa Lotos is looking at developing a hydrocracker unit at Gdansk for the production of base oils.

** Tupras has added a Honeywell UOP external heavy polynuclear (HPNA) stripper to its Izmit refinery, Honeywell announced Dec. 7. The HPNA stripper will help maximize conversion in two-stage Unicracking unit, increasing distillate yields and adding the flexibility to process heavier feedstocks the company said. Honeywell said UOP provided the basic engineering, catalysts and technical services for the project, adding that the Unicracking unit at Izmit was designed with a common fractionation section, whose feedstocks include straight run diesel, coker gas oil and vacuum gas oils and is integrated with other UOP process technologies.

Existing entries

** Serbia’s Pancevo refinery will upgrade its catalytic cracker, owner 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. This 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.

** Total said that despite the temporary shutdown the modernization of the Donges in which it is investing Eur450 million ($534.9 million) will continue. This includes Eur350 million for a desulfurization unit, Eur50 million for participating in the bypassing of the rail lines, and Eur50 million in a unique control room. Separately, the refinery said on its website this week that it has started preparations for installing a new diesel hydrotreater. A new diesel hydrodesulfurization unit at France’s Donges was expected to come online in 2023, Total said previously. Construction of the HDT-VGO units, which had been awarded to Kinetics Technology, will go ahead alongside a rail bypass which was the main requirement for the refinery’s upgrade to proceed. Kinetics Technology said it had been awarded the contract for building the 40,000 b/d hydrotreater. The French government, local authorities, railway operator SNCF and Total signed a memorandum of intent in 2016 to build the railroad track bypassing the Donges refinery. Total said previously that, following the bypass agreement, it would proceed with the planned upgrade. The bypass will be ready in 2022.

** Cepsa’s San Roque has received a favorable environmental impact assessment for its Eur1 billion ($1.2 billion) “bottom of the barrel” project, which includes the construction of a new hydrocracker and the idling of the visbreaking unit, among other work, according to a publication in the country’s official gazette, the Boletin Oficial del Estado, or BOE. The project has been delayed due to local objections which caused earthworks at the site to be halted in 2019 and then further delayed by pandemic-related measures in the country and other legal challenges. The project entails the construction of a new LC Fining hydrocracking unit which will provide 36,700 b/d of LC Fining technology and 27,600 b/d of isotreating, strengthening Cepsa’s marine diesel and bunker fuel oil output, as well as a sulfur unit and new hydrogen unit. The new hydrocracker will produce lighter products by increasing the conversion factor and also boosting the output of gasoline blending components. The production of diesel should increase from 40% to 55% once the project is concluded, the company said previously. The overall crude processing capacity will not be altered, according to the BOE. No date has been announced for the start of the work, which was initially due to begin in 2019 and conclude in 2022. Separately, Cepsa will revamp Isomax, fluid catalytic cracker, alkylation units at San Roque and will construct a methylene unit (Sorbex II).

** Bulgaria’s Burgas refinery has awarded a contract to US Lummus Technology for a 280,000 mt/year polypropylene plant. The contract includes a technology license as well as as basic design engineering, training and services, and catalyst supply, Lummus said. “This award is the second significant polypropylene contract we’ve signed with Lukoil recently,” said Leon de Bruyn, Lummus Technology’s President and Chief Executive Officer in the statement. Lummus said it has earlier been awarded a contract for a propylene unit at Lukoil’s Russian Kstovo refinery in Nizhny Novgorod.

** Hungary 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. The company confirmed in Oct. 2020 that it will continue “and if possible accelerate, work on our strategic Residue Upgrade project and the implementation of other capital projects that can be done only when the units are partially out of operation.” Its Rijeka refinery will be offline for a few months from November. 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, subject to further investment decisions.

** Poland’s PKN Orlen has completed the Czech Crown 9.6 billion ($410 million) polyethylene 3 unit investment at its Litvinov refinery in the Czech Republic. The refinery’s owner Unipetrol, a 100%-owned PKN subsidiary, has now taken charge of the black polyethylene unit, the second part of the investment, PKN said in a statement. The first part, the natural polyethylene unit, was completed in April 2020. The polyethylene 3 unit, which can produce 270,000 mt/year of high density polyethylene, will replace production of one of the two existing production units with a capacity of 120,000 mt/year. Litvinov’s polyethylene capacity will increase from 320,000 mt/year to 470,000 mt/year as a result of the investment, PKN said. Separately, McDermott International has been awarded a contract for engineering, procurement and construction management services for the upgrade of the hydrocracker at Czech Litvinov refinery.

** PKN Orlen is holding talks with the Lithuanian government about it co-financing a bottom-of-the-barrel processing investment at the country’s Orlen Lietuva refinery. “Without in-depth processing there will be no future for this refinery. With the bad macroeconomic environment and margins as low as they are now, if the refinery is not modern it has problems with efficiency,” PKN CEO Daniel Obajtek told state news agency PAP Biznes. Obajtek said the investment would be PKN’s largest in Lithuania and it would increase the refinery’s diesel, gasoline and jet fuel yield by around 10 percentage points. Obajtek said that once a final investment decision was taken the project could be completed within three years.

** The industrial complex in Tarragona will adapt one of its units to manufacture advanced high resistance polypropylene with start-up in 2021, Repsol said. When operational, the plant will be the first of its kind in the Iberian peninsula to produce the highly specialized polymers for use in the automotive sector, Repsol said. At Spain’s Cartagena, work restarted in September on a lubricants unit at the at the Ilboc plant alongside Korean partner SKSol, after being halted in March amid COVID-19 restrictions. The lubricants plant will see capacity increase 50% to 1.0 million mt/year when work is concluded, with no date supplied.

** The Kazakh-Romanian Energy Investment Fund (FIEKR) has signed an engineering, procurement and construction contract for Turkey’s Calik Enerji to build a cogeneration plant at Romania’s Petromidia refinery, Rompetrol said in a statement. Commissioning of the $148 million project is targeted for the first half of 2023. The new combined electricity and heat production plant will use natural gas as the main fuel. It will have capacity of 80 MW, of which 60-70 MW will fully cover the Petromidia plant’s electricity needs with up to 20 MW used to heat water for the town of Navodari’s heating system.

Romania’s Petromidia is also planning to build a diesel dewaxing unit “which will allow the refinery to significantly improve the process of obtaining diesel fuels in the wintertime,” the company said in a statement. The project has estimated completion in September 2022. Separately, a second project is aimed at the increase by more than 30% of the production of polymers in the petrochemical division of Petromidia, which is “the sole producer in Romania in this field”.

** Greece’s Motor Oil Hellas said that its capital expenditure in H1 included the naphtha treatment complex, which has entered the construction phase in 2020 and is expected to be completed in Q1 2022.

** Valero said the cogen project at Pembroke, UK will be completed in 2021. It has previously said that the project had slowed down, “pushing out” the mechanical completion by six to nine months. In 2016, Valero submitted a planning application to build a 45 MW combined heat and power generation plant at Pembroke, which will provide power to the refinery and supplement its steam demand.

** PKN Orlen laid the foundation stone July 6 2020 to mark the start of a Zloty 1 billion ($250 million) investment to build a visbreaking unit at its Plock refinery. The unit, which will increase gasoline and diesel yield at the refinery, is being built by a consortium of KTI Poland and IDS-BEU under a turnkey contract. It will be completed by the end of 2022. The company has 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. Ongoing modernization of the hydrocracking and diesel hydrodesulfurization units at Plock will also increase the refinery’s diesel production capacity.

PKN Orlen, said it has purchased a license and basic design for the modernization of a hydrodesulfurization (HOG) unit to increase the production of high-margin products at its Plock refinery.

PKN signed a contract to buy the license from Axens. The HOG unit at Plock was launched in 1999.

The modernization will allow the unit to produce more diesel and gasoline.

** Planned maintenance and an upgrade at Germany’s Leuna refinery this autumn has been postponed “due to the ongoing pandemic and the resulting restrictions on travel and transport of goods, as well as the impact on international supply chains”, the company said. Work was also due to continue in 2021 and by the end of next year the project would be completed. Total said in 2019 that it would invest Eur150 million over 2020-2021 to reduce production of heavy products as demand decreases, and increase production of methanol, an important feedstock for the chemical industry.

** Turkish refiner Tupras’ upgrade plans for its four refineries include a number of new units as well as works for modernizing existing ones. The company has opened an EPC tender valued at around $400 million for the construction of new sulfur units at its three main refineries, Izmit, Izmir and Kirikkale. Tupras has also signed a $66 million tender for the revamp of the FCC unit at Izmit, which will include the installation of flue gas treatment and energy back recovery systems. Installation work is set to start this year and complete in 2021. Work had already started on a $3.9 million modernization of the PLT-7 LPG Merox unit at Izmir designed to reduce sulfur content from 50 ppm to 30 ppm, to meet new emissions standards. Further upgrades planned at Izmir include a $25 million project to increase the capacity of the CCR U-9200 Platformer Unit from 160 cu m/hour to 225 cu m/hour, as well as a $69 million project to revamp the FCC unit and install flue gas treatment and energy recovery systems.

** Bosnia’s Brod refinery is offline while it is being reconstructed. A pipeline, 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 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.

** 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. Start-up was expected in 2021.

** 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.

** 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.

Biofuel, hydrogen upgrades

New and revised entries

** OMV said it is investing around Eur200 million ($243.1 million) in biofuel production at its Schwechat refinery in Austria. As a result the refinery “will be able to substitute large quantities of fossil diesel with biodiesel in an innovative co-processing approach.” The refinery will convert up to 160,000 mt of liquid biomass into carbon-neutral fuels, it said, adding that with this process the HVO “should lead to an annual reduction in OMV’s carbon footprint of up to 360,000 metric tons of fossil CO2.” The product can be used in any type of vehicle, OMV said, adding that the technology will not be limited only to vegetable oil, but using waste products, such as used cooking oil, and advanced feedstocks will also be possible “based on availability”. “The conversion in the OMV Schwechat Refinery makes a key contribution to more sustainable mobility and is another step in achieving our climate targets,” OMV said.

** Finnish refiner and renewables fuel producer Neste will revamp operations at its Porvoo refinery to focus on co-processing renewable and circular raw materials, it added. Neste has emerged as one of the key producers of sustainable aviation fuel with current capacity of 100,000 mt/year of sustainable aviation fuel. It is aiming to produce some 1.5 million mt/year of SAF by 2023.

Existing entries

** Repsol has increased its 2025 and 2030 targets for sustainable biofuel production, targeting 1.3 million mt/year of sustainable biofuel production by 2025 and more than 2 million mt/year by 2030, senior management said Nov. 26. By 2025 the company aims to nearly double sustainable biofuel production from its current output of 700,000 mt/year. Of the new production total, up to 250,000 mt/year will be from an advanced biofuels plant at its Cartagena refinery in Spain able to produce 250,000 mt/year of biofuels for aircraft, trucks and cars; up to 130,000 mt/year will be methanol supplied from its new waste pyrolosis plant in Bilbao, and up to 300,000 mt/year will come from debottlenecking activity at all five refineries, in their hydrodesulfurization and hydrotreatment units to produce HVO. The company is targeting 64,000 mt/year of renewable hydrogen production by 2025 and 192,000 mt/year by 2030. The production will be integrated with the refineries as much as possible meaning a feedstock of 50% biomethane, which will be produced by modifying its steam reformation units, and 50% by electrolyzers fed by its own renewable generation. Repsol said it will build a 10-MW, green-hydrogen plant which it will use to produce synthetic fuels in collaboration with Saudi Aramco at its Bilbao refinery. The plant is part of an Eur80-million decarbonization project that will also include a carbon-capture project and a fuel-from-waste plant, and should be completed by 2024.

** Germany’s Heide refinery along with their partners Orsted and EDF would build a 30 megawatts electrolysis plant, calling it hydrogen ecosystem, replacing grey hydrogen with green via electrolysis unit, powered by an offshore wind farm. Heide plans to utilize green hydrogen towards methanol in the production of sustainable aviation fuel, rather than bio-components and the Fischer-Tropsch method. The company plans to commission a pilot plant unit at the refinery in 2021, before moving to scale up the project in the next three to six years.

** Orsted and BP are to jointly develop a 50 MW renewable hydrogen project at BP’s Lingen refinery in Emsland, northwest Germany, Orsted said. The project, expected to be operational in 2024, would comprise a 50 MW electrolyzer capable of generating 9,000 mt/year of hydrogen, 20% of the refinery’s current fossil-based hydrogen consumption. The electrolyzer is expected to be powered by an Orsted North Sea offshore wind farm. The partners have a longer-term ambition to build more than 500 MW of renewable hydrogen capacity at Lingen, providing renewable hydrogen to meet all the refinery’s hydrogen demand and provide feedstock for future synthetic fuel production.

** Total said it would convert its French Grandpuits refinery “into a zero-crude platform”. By 2024, the plant will focus on new industrial activities, including production of renewable diesel mostly for the aviation industry, production of bioplastics, plastics recycling and operation of two photovoltaic solar power plants. Crude oil refining will be discontinued in the first quarter of 2021 and storage of oil products will end in late 2023.

** The conversion of Preem Petroleum’s Lysekil refinery near Brofjorden has begun, in a move that will make it the biggest producer of renewable fuels in Scandinavia, the company said in a statement on Oct. 23. Preem said in its latest update to the refinery’s environmental permit that it will apply to establish the capacity for the large-scale production of renewable fuels at the refinery, which it estimated would reduce climate emissions by up to 1.7 million mt/year. In an initial phase, Preem plans to carry out a redevelopment of the existing Synsat plant, which currently produces environmental class 1 diesel. When the conversion is complete, the plant will have the capacity to process up to 40% of its renewable raw materials, with the ambition to reach higher levels in the long term. The latest development follows a statement made by the company in September that an upgrade of the conventional oil productions refinery had been abandoned. Preem was aiming to build a slurry hydrocracking plant that could convert fuel oil into sulfur-free gasoline and diesel.

** Croatia’s INA has selected Axens Futurol ethanol technology for the “basic engineering design” of an advanced bioethanol production plant at Sisak.

** UK Humber refinery plans a capacity increase for its renewable diesel output in mid-2021, the company said. Humber can produce 1,000 b/d of renewable diesel, after starting production around a year ago, and will reach 4,000 b/d next year. It is processing used cooking oil in the cracker, it said during a Q2 conference call.

** Five 2 MW PEM electrolyzers have been installed and testing has begun at Shell’s Rhineland (Rheinland) refinery in Germany, but delays to the Refhyne project are now anticipated due to coronavirus restrictions, UK hydrogen company ITM said in a trading update June 8. Germany’s Rhineland has started the construction of a new hydrogen production plant, using electrolysis, at its Wesseling site. The investment project, due for completion in 2020, will generate hydrogen from electricity rather than natural gas. The 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.

** Gunvor is studying the potential installation of an HVO unit at the Rotterdam refinery.

Launches

Existing entries

** Preliminary work on 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 will process 1.6 million mt/year shale oil and produce 1.5 million mt/year products. 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.

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