Total’s Leuna refinery operating at reduced rates

Total SA subsidiary Total Raffinerie Mitteldeutschland GMBH has halted operations of some units at its 241,000-b/d Leuna refinery in Germany following contamination issues resulting from supplies of Russian crude oil volumes.

Total SA subsidiary Total Raffinerie Mitteldeutschland GMBH has halted operations of some units at its 241,000-b/d Leuna refinery in Germany following contamination issues resulting from supplies of Russian crude oil volumes.

“Due to the prolonged exceptional situation on the Russian crude contaminated with high levels of organic chloride, Total Raffinerie Mitteldeutschland had to take out of operation some units of the refinery last week in order to make appropriate technical checks,” Total told OGJ in an e-mail on May 22.

While some operations started to resume at the beginning of this week using uncontaminated crude stored in Germany, with continuing problems in connection with the Druzhba pipeline, capacity of the Leuna refinery will remain limited, the company added.

During the period of partial unit closures, Total said it continues to make best efforts to limit the effect on supplies of gasoline, diesel, and heating oil to customers and service stations.

The company did not disclose further details regarding the specific units taken offline or a timeframe for when the refinery will resume full operations.

The Druzhba pipeline system cut operations after Belneftekhim of Belarus on Apr. 19 reported organochloride content many times above allowable levels, after which time Poland, Germany, Ukraine, and Slovakia suspended crude deliveries from the system amid reports of other refinery-related contaminations (OGJ Online, May 8, 2019).

Major refinery investment

Confirmation of reduced operating rates at Leuna follow Total Raffinerie Mitteldeutschland’s late April announcement that it has broken ground on a €150-million project to further improve competitiveness of the refinery.

The project aims to reduce production of heavy products at the site as demand for them decreases, while simultaneously increasing production of methanol via increasing production of the refinery’s existing visbreaker combined with an upgrade of the POX-methanol plant, the operator said.

Work on the project will last until yearend 2021, with some project-related activities scheduled to be executed during the refinery’s upcoming €150-million planned turnaround in 2020.

“[The project to boost methanol at the site] will contribute to the further integration of the plant into the petrochemical industry, thus improving the competitiveness of the Leuna refinery, which is one of Europe’s most modern plants,” said refinery manager Ing. Willi Frantz.

Further details regarding the project have yet to be disclosed.

Contact Robert Brelsford at rbrelsford@ogjonline.com.

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