Texas-based gas and oil behemoth ExxonMobil announced on 31 October that operations have begun at its new unit in Antwerp, Belgium
The unit specializes in the conversion of heavy, high-sulfur residual oils into high-value transportation fuels including diesel and marine gasoil, with an output of 50,000 barrels per day.
“Our investment in Antwerp strengthens ExxonMobil’s competitiveness and position as a leading European refiner by expanding the refinery’s product slate and increasing our ability to deliver larger quantities of cleaner, higher-value fuels to European customers,” said ExxonMobil’s president of Fuels & Lubricants, Bryan W Milton.
ExxonMobil said in its press release that the facility will cater to projected demand for low-sulfur fuel oil facilitated by new legislation from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) set for implementation in 2020.
IMO’s website states: “From 1 January 2020, the limit for sulphur in fuel oil used on board ships operating outside designated emission control areas will be reduced to 0.50% m/m (mass by mass).”
The new restriction is expected to significantly reduce both air and marine pollution.
Other environmentally-considered upgrades to ExxonMobil’s Antwerp facility have included a 130-megawatt cogeneration unit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and a diesel hydrotreater to increase the facilities low-sulfur production capacity.
“The $2 billion we have invested in our Antwerp refinery over the last decade has made the facility one of the most modern and efficient in the world,” said Milton.