CEPSA signs deal for new unit, trial program at Spanish refinery

Compania Espanola de Petroleos SA (CEPSA) is planning to install a unit for the production of alternative marine fuels at its 12 million-tonne/year Gibraltar-San Roque refinery near Cadiz in southern Spain.

Installation of the unit comes as part of an operational pilot program agreement with alternative fuel supplier Quadrise Fuels International PLC’s subsidiary Quadrise International Ltd. (QIL) and shipping firm AP Moller-Maersk AS to trial Marine MSAR, a low-cost and potentially eco-friendlier alternative to heavy fuel oil, CEPSA and QIL said.

QIL will supply, install, and commission an MSAR manufacturing unit at the refinery, which adjoins the Algeciras bunker fuel supply hub, as well as provide CEPSA with process chemicals, technical advice, and support services during the trial program, which is scheduled to begin in first-quarter 2016, QIL said.

Maersk will use MSAR production from the pilot program to fuel a fleet of its vessels that have been designated to participate in the trial.

Final detailed engineering design for installation and tie-ins of the MSAR production unit and ancillary equipment are under way, as is permitting for both the plant and the manufacturing process by regulatory authorities, CEPSA and QIL said.

The trial program is expected to run until yearend 2016 or early 2017, when engine tests on the fuel will be completed, the companies said.

A production capacity for the proposed unit was not disclosed.

As part of the trial arrangement, CEPSA also has agreed to evaluate the possibility of maintaining commercial production and supply of MSAR fuel from the Gibraltar-San Roque refinery beyond the program’s end pending the outcome of favorable engine test results.

Commercial rollout of MSAR fuel from the refinery would begin following regulatory and commercial approvals, CEPSA said.

The pilot program adds to CEPSA’s effort to meet increasingly more stringent International Marine Organization (IMO) regulations that call for a decrease in the sulfur level of marine bunker fuels (OGJ, Nov. 24, 2008, p. 46).

Last year, Cepsa launched DMB 0.1%, a low-sulfur marine fuel designed to meet IMO’s new sulfur emission control area standards, the company said.


The new production unit will use MSAR oil-in-water emulsion fuel process technology, which produces a low-viscosity fuel oil from heavy hydrocarbon residues using water as a diluent instead of high-value distillates traditionally used in heavy fuel oil production.

Under the production process, developed by QIL and AkzoNobel NV, bottom-of-the-barrel residue is mechanically milled into ultrafine particles that are simultaneously dispersed in water through the addition of small amounts of surface-active chemicals used to stabilize the resulting oil-in-water emulsion, QIL said.

In addition to providing an alternative option for handling bottom-of-the-barrel hydrocarbon residue, the technology will enable CEPSA to benefit from sales of distillate production that otherwise would be blended for production of heavy fuel oil.

Contact Robert Brelsford at rbrelsford@ogjonline.com.

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