Shell invests in cleaner fuel technology at Pernis refinery

The Royal Dutch Shell PLC is bringing major technology investment to Pernis, its integrated refinery and chemicals manufacturing plant, for the first time since 2011.

In a move to stay competitive and enhance innovation, Shell has contracted for a solvent deasphalter (SDA) unit that will take cleaner fuel production to a greater level. With 404,000 barrels per day production capacity, Pernis, which is located in Rotterdam.

According to Robin Mooldijk, EVP for Manufacturing, the new unit “pushes the boundaries of refining technology, seamlessly integrating with almost every part of the site to unlock the full value of each barrel of oil.”

Ten-storeys tall, the SDA unit cleans middle distillates in heavy fuels and increases crude flexibility, enabling Pernis to meet Europe’s growing demand for cleaner, high quality vehicle fuels and increase profit margins. Processing capacity at Pernis, which is currently 404,000 barrels per day, is unaffected.

To lower costs and speed up the project, the SDA unit was constructed using a modular approach. Process modules built in China were transported to Rotterdam. Then, it is installed on-site. To minimise interruptions to regular plant operations, all work was done during scheduled maintenance hours.

With the new SDA unit, Pernis will also be producing cleaner marine gasoil, with a reduction of sulfur content for marine bunker fuel from 3.5 wt % (current) to 0.5 wt % by 2020. This is in accordance with the standards of the International Maritime Organization, Shell confirmed in a statement.

Although the exact capacity of the new unit has not been disclosed, Mooldijk said: “Shell’s Pernis refinery is now ready to meet the anticipated demand growth for cleaner transport fuels that will help keep Europe’s people and economy moving.”

In addition, Pernis has been collaborating with the city government of Rotterdam to utilise residual energy from refinery operations to power heat to local homes, potentially cutting the city’s carbon footprint by 35,000 tonnes annually.

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