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Shell to build SDA unit at Wesseling plant

18 Sep 2017, 11.41 am GMT

Shell to build SDA unit at Wesseling plant

London, 18 September (Argus) — Shell plans to add a solvent deasphalting (SDA) unit to its 140,000 b/d Wesseling refinery in Germany, in preparation for the International Maritime Organisation's (IMO) 2020 sulphur cap.

The company said it could prepare the relevant permit applications for the project, dubbed 'GOAL 2019', by the first quarter of next year. Shell said last month its intended to boost the desulphurisation of heavy residues at Wesseling.

The Rheinland refinery complex, which consists of Wesseling and the 170,000 b/d Godorf plant, produces around 1.2m t/yr of heavy fuel oil.

SDA units are an increasingly popular option for refiners looking to optimise their product slate in light of the IMO legislation, which will cap sulphur emissions from ship exhausts at 0.5pc from 1 January 2020, down from 3.5pc currently.

The lead times for an SDA, of three years, are considerably shorter than those for delayed coking and residual cracking units, which take around five years. Converting vacuum residue into deasphalted oil that can be used as either cracker feedstock or, following hydrotreatment, low-sulphur fuel oil, affords flexibility for refiners wishing to hedge their bets about which products will be most profitable.

Shell is building an SDA at its 420,000 b/d refinery in Pernis, the Netherlands. This is scheduled for completion by the end of 2018. Total is scheduled to start up an SDA at its 308,000 b/d Antwerp refinery, which will increase the facility's ability to produce higher-value products. Neste started up an SDA at its 197,000 b/d Porvoo plant in April.

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