Total has approved a €1 billion modernization project for its Antwerp production facilities, the company’s largest European refining and petrochemical platform. Total says the decision is in line with the Group’s strategy of focusing its investment on its large integrated platforms to position them among the most competitive of the industry.

Total is one of the largest integrated oil and gas companies in the world, with activities in more than 130 countries. The Group has three production facilities in the port area of Antwerp that form an integrated refining and petrochemical platform. The platform produces various petroleum products, such as fuel oil, gasoline, LPG, diesel and jet fuel, as well as base chemicals including olefins, C4 fractions and aromatics, some of which are used to manufacture polymers like high-density polyethylene.

“The approval of this upgrade plan is a milestone for the further development of the Antwerp facilities into one of the most profitable platform of the refining and chemicals business of Total” comments Patrick Pouyanné, president, Total Refining & Chemicals.

Follow the market

With this investment, Total says it demonstrates its commitment to remaining a competitive industry leader in Europe and its ability to adapt to market trends by reducing its production capacities and emphasizing higher value-added products that meet the most stringent environmental standards.

Two major projects will be implemented in the near future:

A new refinery upgrading complex, consisting of a solvent de-asphalting unit and a mild hydro-cracking unit, will start up in early 2016. Intended primarily to convert heavy fuel oil into de-sulphurized diesel and ultra-low sulfur heating oil, the planned complex responds to the shift in demand toward products with a lower environmental impact.

New and old

A new plant will convert low-value refinery fuel gases into low-cost petrochemical feedstock, replacing expensive oil-based naphtha. By further enhancing the integration between the platform’s refining and petrochemical units, this project will increase the competitiveness of the latter. The facility is scheduled to start up in early 2017.

In the framework of this modernization plan, two existing production facilities will be shut down, as they are no longer competitive in the world economic environment, Total says. The smallest and oldest steam cracker, currently idled for lack of markets, will be permanently stopped and dismantled. The smallest and oldest polyethylene production line will be closed at the end of 2014, once an investment in other polyethylene lines to produce a new range of innovative polymers has been completed.

The Antwerp platform’s workforce will remain unchanged at around 1,700 people.