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Refinery Upgrade

Cracker Upgrade: Exxon Plans Refinery Expansion in Rotterdam

| Editor: Dominik Stephan

Exxon Mobil’s Rotterdam refinery, one of the most energy efficient in Europe, plays a key role in the region and marketplace as a manufacturer of low-sulfur petroleum products and chemical feedstocks.
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Exxon Mobil’s Rotterdam refinery, one of the most energy efficient in Europe, plays a key role in the region and marketplace as a manufacturer of low-sulfur petroleum products and chemical feedstocks. (Picture: Exxon Mobil)

Exxon adapts a technology proven in its latest projects at Baytown and Singapore in Europe: the petrochemical giant plans to upgrade the hydrocracker at its refinery in Rotterdam to produce EHCTM Group II base stocks and ultra-low sulfur diesel.

Rotterdam/Netherlands – Exxon Mobil announced plans to expand the hydrocracker at its Rotterdam refinery by 2018. The various modifications shall enable the unit to upgrade heavier byproducts into cleaner, higher-value finished products, including EHCTM Group II base stocks and ultra-low sulfur diesel, to meet growing global market demand.

The refinery, operated by Exxon subsidiary Esso Nederland, will use the company’s proprietary hydrocracking technology and be the first to produce EHC Group II base stocks in Europe. Base stocks are the primary ingredients used in the production of high-quality lubricating oils and greases. Group II base stocks are higher in performance, resulting in advantages in many lubricant and process oil applications.

“This investment demonstrates Exxon Mobil’s long-term view and disciplined investment approach,” said Jerry Wascom, president of Exxon Mobil Refining & Supply Company. “Despite a challenging industry environment, we are committed to our long-term strategy of investing in projects in advantaged locations where we can continue to increase competitiveness and profitability.”

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Following the expansion, the hydrocracking process will use proprietary catalysts applied in a unique refinery process configuration to efficiently produce both high-quality base stocks and ultra-low sulfur diesel. The base stocks that will be produced at Rotterdam are designed to help lubricant blenders achieve greater formulation flexibility and simplify global qualification testing. Exxon Mobil’s EHC product line will enable customers to cost-effectively blend a broad range of finished lubricants to meet evolving industry requirements.

“This investment underscores our commitment to provide high-quality base stocks in Europe and follows previously announced expansions at Exxon Mobil’s Baytown, Texas and Jurong Singapore refineries this past year,” said Loic Vivier, vice president of Wholesale & Specialties for Exxon Mobil Fuels & Lubricants. “Combined with our existing manufacturing capabilities, this project will enable us to offer a global EHC Group II base stocks product offering to meet current and future customer needs.”

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The Rotterdam hydrocracker project, coupled with the refinery’s advantageous location in an integrated petrochemical cluster, will strengthen the refinery’s position as a leader in the global refining industry. The project’s environmental impact assessment has been approved and the site-permitting process is being finalized. Permits are expected in early 2016. Pending receipt of permits, construction is scheduled to begin in 2016 and unit startup is targeted for 2018.

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