ExxonMobil plans to install coker at Antwerp refinery

ExxonMobil Corp. has reported it will invest $1 billion to install a delayed coker unit at its 320,000-b/d Antwerp, Belgium, refinery.

The unit, which will convert heavy, higher sulfur residual oils into transportation products such as marine gas oil and diesel fuel, comes as part of ExxonMobil’s long-term strategy to help the refinery better compete in Europe’s challenging industry environment, the company said.

While European refiners currently are experiencing weak margins and industry-wide losses as a result of excess refining capacity amid diminished demand, ExxonMobil said its investment for the coker at Antwerp will directly address a shortfall in regional refiners’ capability to convert fuel oil to products such as diesel.

Along with a recently completed 130-Mw cogeneration unit and a diesel hydrotreater, the addition of the coker will bring the company’s total investments into the Antwerp complex to more than $2 billion in less than a decade, said Jerry Wascom, incoming president of ExxonMobil Refining & Supply Co.

In line with the company’s projection that trucking and other commercial transportation will sustain Europe’s high demand for diesel in the coming decades, ExxonMobil said the Antwerp project is the first of several under consideration to further strengthen its strategic European refineries.

ExxonMobil previously announced plans to increase production of ultralow-sulfur diesel at the Antwerp refinery in December 2008 (OGJ Online, Oct. 21, 2010; Jan. 9, 2009).

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