Esso SAF to increase diesel production, market biofuel

Esso SAF plans to spend €100 million this year to increase diesel production and market the new European biofuel SP95-E10.

Doris Leblond
OGJ Correspondent

PARIS, Apr. 3 -- Esso SAF SA plans to spend €100 million this year to increase diesel production, market the new European biofuel SP95-E10, improve energy efficiency, and reduce nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions while maintaining two refineries and its service stations in France.

Chairman and Chief Executive Francis Dusieux said the company has invested €1 billion in France over the last 8 years. The €120 million invested last year included modernizing and restructuring service stations and development of biofuels.

In 2008 the company spent €62 million on the refineries at Port-Jerome-Gravenchon in Normandy and Fos-sur-Mer near Marseille to reduce the sulfur content of diesel to less than a 10 ppm and increase production 15%.

At the same time, Esso increased heating oil production to meet rising winner demand. However, reduced demand and strikes at the refineries in June and December hampered gasoline production.

Company officials still fear that the Marseille Port Authority's new strategic plan to give Marseille a major role in the Mediterranean might spark more strikes.

The utilization rate was increased to 10.2 tonnes at Port-Jerome-Gravenchon as two new reactors came on stream in 2008,increasing diesel production by 5%. Production of special gasoline for ethanol incorporation jumped from 3% to 32% of overall production.

At Fos-sur-Mer, with 5.6 tonnes crude processed, the average utilization rate was 87% as the strikes were partially compensated by postponement of the turnarounds on some units.

Fos-sur-Mer now ranks among ExxonMobil Corp.'s best refineries in terms of energy efficiency.

The diesel desulfurization project was started there in the second quarter of 2008 and involved installation of a new stripping tower and improvement of the thermal integration of the main diesel oil desulfurisation unit. Diesel capacity was increased 35% with a less than 10 ppm sulfur content.

The refinery also continued to diversify the range of crudes processed to improve operational flexibility with seven new crudes used.

A new feature on France's refining scene was installation in first quarter 2009 of a unit using the selective catalytic reduction technology to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions of the gas turbine. A further project to reduce the steam tension of gasoline was due on stream in the first quarter of 2009.

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