Eni building commercial-scale EST plant

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, May 16
-- Eni SPA has begun work on a commercial scale plant based on a new hydroconversion process that it says will eliminate production of fuel oil at its 200,000 b/d Sannazzaro refinery near Pavia, Italy.

The company expects the 23,000-b/d plant to be complete by yearend 2012.

The company has been developing the process, Eni Slurry Technology (EST), since the 1990s as a route to the full conversion and upgrading of the bottom of the refinery barrel (OGJ, Feb. 23, 2009, Newsletter).

A 1,200-b/sd demonstration plant at Eni’s 84,000 b/d Taranto refinery has processed more than 230,000 bbl of various heavy oils since start-up in 2005. Eni has invested €1.1 billion in the project.

Eni describes EST as a type of hydrocracking process. “Its peculiar characteristics concern the use of dispersed catalysts and an original process scheme for the catalyst handling that allows an almost total feedstock conversion as well as high upgrading performance,” a technical note says.

The new plant, for which design began in mid-2008, will convert heavy vacuum residue into light and middle distillates. Construction of the reactor began in 2009.

The Sannazzaro refinery has 34,000 b/d of fluid catalytic cracking capacity and 30,000 b/d of hydrocracking capacity for distillate upgrading.

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