Shell agrees to sell three French refineries

Uchenna Izundu
International Editor

LONDON, Aug. 2 -- Royal Dutch Shell has signed deals to sell three French refineries with a combined capacity of more than 300,000 b/d to Basell Polyolefins, Hoofddorp, the Netherlands, and Petroplus Holdings AG, Zug, Switzerland.

The refineries are among Shell's smallest and oldest. Shell said earlier this year that it was carrying out a review of nonstrategic assets (OGJ Online, Jan. 15, 2007).

Basell has agreed to pay $700 million to Societe des Petroles Shell to buy the 80,000 b/d Berre-l'Etang refinery site complex and associated infrastructure in France. The deal should be completed in early 2008.

The refinery produces naphtha, LPG, fuels, bitumen, and heating oil. Basell has a steam cracker, a butadiene extraction unit, and polypropylene and polyethylene plants adjacent to the refinery and a polyethylene plant at nearby Fos sur Mer.

Petroplus Holdings has signed separate letters of intent with Shell International Petroleum Co. Ltd. to acquire the Petit Couronne and Reichstett Vendenheim refineries in France. Petroplus will pay $875 million, including working capital of $400 million.

The parties hope to reach agreement on a sale in 2008.

The 164,000-b/cd Petit Couronne refinery, 130 km northwest of Paris on the River Seine, produces 40% middle distillates and 20% gasoline. Its major units include crude and vacuum distillation, fluid catalytic cracking, visbreaking, hydrotreating, reforming, lubricant production, and bitumen production. It receives crude via a 70-km pipeline from the port at Le Havre. The crude slate is about 70% high-sulfur.

The 80,000-b/cd Reichstett Vendenheim refinery is in Alsace, France, near Strasbourg, about 5 km from the River Rhine. It produces 45% middle distillates and 20% gasoline. Major units are crude and vacuum distillation, fluid catalytic cracking, visbreaking, hydrotreating, reforming, and bitumen production. Crude arrives via a pipeline from Fos. The crude slate is about 45% high-sulfur.

Contact Uchenna Izundu at uchennai@pennwell.com.

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