Eni, Saras strengthen integration of Sardinian processing plants

Versalis SPA, the wholly owned chemicals subsidiary of Eni SPA, has entered an agreement with Saras SPA subsidiary Sarlux SRL to formalize the sale of 80% interest in units at Versalis’s petrochemical plant in Sarroch, on the southwestern coast of Sardinia, Italy.

The agreement, signed on Dec. 29, 2014, aims to reinforce the integration between the Versalis petrochemical complex and Sarlux’s 300,000-b/d Sarroch refinery to generate industrial synergies that will make operations more competitive in Europe’s troubled refining and petrochemical sector, Eni said.

“The challenging market scenario for petrochemical products, the distance from the outlet markets, and the high structural costs deriving from the separation of the two companies’ industrial scopes makes it necessary to consolidate operations in order to improve the sustainability of the whole [Sarroch] site and guarantee the continuation of operations,” Eni said.

Sarlux’s acquisition involves Versalis operations which already are integrated with the Sarroch refinery’s production cycle, and includes the following:

• The catalytic reforming unit, which is used for the production of gasoline and hydrogen.

• The BTX and Formex units, which are used to split aromatic components.

• The propylene splitter, which separates propane for domestic consumption and high-quality propylene for petrochemical applications.

Sarlux also will acquire logistic units and utilities, including a power plant and maritime terminal, Saras said in a separate statement.

Saras plans to implement several production and organizational synergies at the integrated complex to increase the efficiency of processing units as well as to improve environmental performance of plant operations, according to the company.

A value of the transaction was not disclosed.

Though connected to the Sarroch refinery’s production activities, the processing units involved in the deal currently are not exploited up to their full potential, both in qualitative and quantitative terms, due to their stand-alone nature, Saras said in a Nov. 13 presentation to investors.

Saras recently completed a 5-year maintenance turnaround of the Sarroch refinery’s fluid catalytic cracking unit between September and October as part of its regular refinery maintenance program to improve safety and reliability of operations at the plant, the company said.

One of the refinery’s crude distillation units also underwent a month of planned maintenance, which ran from Sept. 14-Oct. 14, 2014, according to Saras.

Crude oil throughputs at Sarroch during third-quarter 2014 averaged about 227,000 b/d, down 13% compared with runs during the same quarter in 2013, the company’s latest quarterly earnings report showed.

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