ExxonMobil breaks ground on Rotterdam hydrocracker expansion

ExxonMobil Corp. has started construction on the planned expansion of hydrocracking operations at subsidiary Esso Nederland BV’s 191,000-b/d refinery in Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands.

The company broke ground on construction for the project on June 15, the Port of Rotterdam said.

Valued at an investment of more than $1 billion, ExxonMobil’s Rotterdam expansion will include the following:

• Construction of a hydrocracking unit based on ExxonMobil’s proprietary hydrocracking technology that will enable increased production of ultralow-sulfur fuels (diesel, kerosine) and base oils from semifinished, high-sulfur feedstock.

• Minor modifications to the refinery’s existing hydrocracker that will add reactors as well as a vacuum distillation section to increase processing capacity to 415 tonnes/hr from its current capacity of 330 tonnes/hr.

• Construction of six tanks that will boost storage capacity at the refinery by 140,000 cu m.

First announced in October 2015, the hydrocracking expansion at Rotterdam comes as part ExxonMobil’s plan to increase the refinery’s capability to upgrade heavier byproducts into high-quality lubricating oils, greases, and ultralow-sulfur diesel to meet growing market demand for those products (OGJ Online, Oct. 29, 2015).

While the project will not alter the refinery’s nameplate crude processing capacity of 191,000-b/d, it will increase capacity to process an existing heavy vacuum gas oil stream (HVGO) as feedstock for the hydrocracker rather than being sold to market, eliminating altogether the plant’s output of HVGO and hydrocrackate.

Following the expansion, the Rotterdam refinery will become the first in Europe able to produce ExxonMobil’s EHC Group II base stocks, which are designed to help lubricant blenders meet evolving industry requirements by enabling greater formulation flexibility and simplifying global qualification testing.

The project, which also will improve energy efficiency at the refinery by 5%, remains on schedule for startup in 2018, according to the Port of Rotterdam.

The Rotterdam project follows a series of previously announced expansions by ExxonMobil to boost production of more profitable products at its Baytown, Tex., Antwerp, Belgium, and Jurong Island, Singapore, manufacturing sites (OGJ Online, Aug. 12, 2015).

Contact Robert Brelsford at rbrelsford@ogjonline.com.

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