Rail bypass deal paves way for Total’s Donges refinery revamp

Total SA has reached an agreement with the French government and local communities for a rail bypass project that will enable the company to move forward with the planned €400-million modernization and overhaul of its 220,000-b/d Donges refinery near Saint Nazaire, France (OGJ Online, Apr. 16, 2015).

Total signed a memorandum of intent with French government officials, authorities for the Pays de la Loire region, the Loire-Atlantique department, the municipality of Saint Nazaire, and SNCF Reseau, the railway system operator, to build a rail line that would bypass the Donges refinery, Total said.

As part of the MOI, the French government, local authorities, and Total have agreed to equally finance the bypass project, with each to contribute one third of the project’s estimated overall cost of €150 million, the operator said.

The rail bypass line, which the parties expect will gain approval sometime in 2017 as a project in the best interest of the public, should be completed and carrying traffic by 2021, according to the MOI’s timeline for project implementation.

Earlier in the year, Total said the planned modernization of Donges was intended to coincide with the rerouting of an existing rail line that runs through the production site, and which, if not rerouted, would prevent future development of refining units at the plant.

With the MOI now completed, the company intends to move forward with its full plan to upgrade and expand gasoline production capacity at the refinery, said Philippe Saquet, president of Total’s refining and chemicals division.

Upon announcing the modernization plans, Total said that reaching an agreement on the rail line bypass in 2015 would result in completion of both the process design package and front-end engineering and design for the Donges upgrade in 2016, with contracts for construction of new units to follow in 2017.

Under such a timeline, the refinery’s new units would be due for startup sometime in 2019, according to Total.

Last month, Total let a contract to Axens to supply technology for a 40,000-b/d vacuum gas oil hydrodesulfurization (VGO HDS) unit to be built as part of refinery’s revamp (OGJ Online, Oct. 13, 2015).

Designed to use intermediate feedstock to produce low-sulfur fuels that meet Europe’s more stringent quality specifications, the VGO HDS unit will receive its hydrogen supply from a steam methane reformer to be built by a contractor already under a long-term hydrogen supply contract with the refinery.

Contact Robert Brelsford at rbrelsford@ogjonline.com.

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