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Total Antwerp upgrade to slash bitumen output

14 Dec 2017, 12.14 pm GMT

Total Antwerp upgrade to slash bitumen output

London, 14 December (Argus) — Total's upgrade at its 310,000 b/d Antwerp refinery in Belgium will result in a substantial cut in bitumen output, with the possibility the road paving product will no longer be produced there.

A company official said the start of a new 2.7mn t/yr solvent de-asphalting unit at the beginning of next year "will have a huge impact on the HSFO production and on the bitumen too… clearly, the remaining bitumen production of Total Antwerp Refinery, if any, will be dedicated to the local [Benelux] market."

The refinery has had capacity to produce up to 350,000 t/yr of bitumen, although it has never produced more than 150,000 t/yr. That output is now set to slashed, if not halted altogether.

The SDA unit was inaugurated two weeks ago and forms the final significant investment in the €1.1bn ($1.3bn) upgrade programme that has ramped up output of clean products.

The upgrade, which will help ready the plant for the International Maritime Organisation's (IMO) global sulphur cap on marine bunker fuels that take effect in 2020, includes a new 3mn t/yr mild hydrocracker that was started up in early 2016. The units are designed to convert heavy fuel oil and bitumen into light products like 10ppm diesel and heating oil. The changes will "have a huge impact" on high-sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) production, a company official said today.

Total indicated last month that fuel oil output at Antwerp and the nearby 150,000 b/d Lukoil/Total Zeeland refinery will be cut by 30pc following the upgrade.

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