French oil and petrochemical company Total announced a US $ 1 billion modernisation program for its largest European refining and petrochemical assets in Antwerp, Belgium. The revamp includes a new refinery upgrading complex as well as a new fuel gas conversion but also the dismantling of an idled steam cracker.
Paris/France – “The approval of this upgrade plan is a milestone for the further development of the Antwerp facilities into one of the most profitable platform of the refining and chemicals business of Total” commented Patrick Pouyanné, President of Total Refining & Chemicals. “With this investment, Total is demonstrating not only its commitment to maintaining its position as a competitive industry leader in Europe and but also its ability to adapt to market trends by reducing its production capacities and emphasizing higher value-added products that meet the most stringent environmental standards.”
Two Major Modernisation Programs for Antwerp Site
The programme includes two major projects: A new refinery upgrading complex, consisting of a solvent de-asphalting unit and a mild hydrocracking unit. Intended primarily to convert heavy fuel oil into desulphurized diesel and ultra low sulfur heating oil, the planned complex responds to the shift in demand toward products with a lower environmental impact. The facility is scheduled to start up in early 2016. Additionally, a new plant shall convert low value refinery fuel gases into low cost petrochemical feedstock, replacing expensive oil-based naphtha. By further enhancing the integration between the platform’s refining and petrochemical units, this project will increase the competitiveness of the latter. The facility is scheduled to start up in early 2017.
Idled Assets to be Dismantled
In the framework of this modernization plan, two existing production facilities will be shut down, as they are no longer competitive in the world economic environment, total stated. The smallest and oldest steam cracker, currently idled for lack of markets, will be permanently stopped and dismantled. The smallest and oldest polyethylene production line will be closed at end-2014, once an investment in other polyethylene lines to produce a new range of innovative polymers has been completed.
The Antwerp platform’s workforce will remain unchanged at around 1,700 people. Employees working in the facilities scheduled for shutdown will all have the opportunity to further develop their careers at the platform’s newly created production facilities.