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Last springtime, one of the globe’s biggest oil companies, Total S.A., based in Paris with procedures in 130 countries, revealed strategies to change its oil refinery in La Mède, France, to make 500,000 bunches (roughly 170 MMgy) of hydrotreated veggie oil (HVO), also known as eco-friendly diesel.

The La Mède oil refinery is in the South of France near Marseilles. The very first unit was constructed in 1935, baseding on Philippe Billant, project supervisor for Complete as well as the head of the La Mède transformation. The splitting system– the main conversion unit at the refinery– was mounted in 1953. Capacity at La Mède today stands at roughly 150,000 barrels every day (nearly 2.3 billion gallons each year). For years, the possession has actually been shedding cash. “The refining setting in Europe is difficult and also competitive,” Billant states. “We need to see the La Mède project because context.”

European demand for petroleum products has declined 15 percent given that 2008. “The European market is continuously contracting,” Overall states, “a situation intensified by the shale oil as well as gas revolution in the United States … as well as competition from refineries in Asia as well as the Middle East. These 2 trends closed European refineries out of some of their residential and also export markets and also have actually exacerbated excess refining capability in Europe.”

In April, when Overall announced plans to purchase both of its 5 French refineries losing cash– Donges and La Mède– Patrick Pouyanné, CEO, said, “There are 3 feasible reactions to the situation in the European refining industry. The initial is to back out. The second is to do absolutely nothing and also perish. The third is to introduce and adjust to fulfill moving demand trends.”

For La Mède, Billant claims the area on France’s Mediterranean Coastline is a highly affordable area. “Forty to 50 percent of France’s oil refining capacity is positioned because extremely tiny location,” he claims. “There’s excess ability in the area contrasted to the need for fuel and also heavy oils.” Billant says La Mède has lower competitive elements than the average refinery in Europe. “For example, it has a low intricacy factor as a result of the reasonably reduced cracker capability vs. the crude distiller,” he describes. “And in spite of investments throughout the years, the refinery has relative low power efficiency as well as high expenses.”

For these reasons, Total determined to finish unrefined oil handling at La Mède by the end of 2016. “The standing quo at La Mède is merely not possible for us,” Billant states, “so we needed to do something making the operation rewarding. Closing the facility was simply not feasible. We needed to find maximum use for the properties at La Mède, including our highly experienced personnel.”

The makeover of the La Mède oil refinery to produce HVO is a very first for France, but not for Europe. Italian oil firm Eni S.p.A. blazed this route in 2012 when it announced plans to transform its Porto Marghera refinery in Venice to produce 300,000 lots of sustainable diesel using the Ecofining process it created collectively with Honeywell’s UOP. Eni recognized the chance to reuse the catalytic hydrodesulfurization part in the Venice refinery to make HVO, at first making use of hand oil. The biorefinery began procedures in 2014 with commissioning through 2015.

While Eni spent EUR100 million ($ 108.2 million) and also applied Ecofining modern technology, Total is spending EUR200 million and will certainly be employing French company Axens’ Vegan process. Axens pioneered the strong stimulant Esterfip-H procedure for fat methyl ester (FAME) production. Its first office installment of the Esterfip-H procedure in 2006 was, coincidentally, additionally in the South of France, in Sète, for Diester Industrie. In 2013, Diester Industrie as well as Saipol, a subsidiary of Avril Team, merged. This October, Saipol announced its investment of EUR28.5 million in extra biodiesel manufacturing ability in Sète, adding 100,000 tons (about 30 MMgy) to its existing 180,000-ton facility, and also a new biomass boiler. The additional biodiesel storage capacity in Sète is based on the Lurgi process, says Tom Doron, public relationships manager for Avril Team.

Interestingly, as Complete indicate saturation of petroleum refining in the South of France, Saipol is worrieded about Overall’s strategies to convert the La Mède refinery to make HVO about 100 miles away. Yves Delaine, chairman of Saipol, says, “Refocusing and also upscaling the tasks of this site will certainly enable us to prepare for a future in which our team believe, regardless of a growing variety of rivals in the Mediterranean area that are utilizing external farming resources. This comprises a real threat, which is ending up being a problem to both our website as well as farmers in the area.” Billant states La Mède will certainly optimize processing of used cooking oil. “We will seek that within France and also the EU,” he states, adding that if it makes financial sense, Total will certainly additionally take into consideration importing feedstock.

The first stage of Overall’s La Mède biorefinery conversion task is, as Billant places it, “the informing and also social process, during which we clarify the project,” he says. “We’re currently done with that stage and we’ve relocated into the advancement and application phase. We will remain to run La Mède as-is till the end of 2016. In the meantime, we will certainly carry out detailed engineering studies so we’ll prepare to start construction in early 2017.” He anticipates construction to be finished mid-2017.

Several of the EUR200 million will certainly be spent on the retrofit of the hydrotreater. “We need to adjust the system to process the renewable feedstock,” Billant claims. The process of hydrogenating the oil to eliminate the oxygen creates a whole lot of warmth. “Much even more compared to when you refine fossil oil, so we need to adapt the activator to handle that,” he says.The conversion repairs and installation additionally includes constructing a new pretreatment system to cleanse the oil and eliminate pollutants prior to going into the catalyzed hydrotreater.”We additionally need to adapt the storage and logistics establishments, “Billant claims. Total will certainly additionally create a device at La Mède to generate AdBlue, a substance to treat diesel NOx exhausts, and an 8-MW solar ranch, built by Total affiliate SunPower, that will certainly offer HALF of the site’s power requirements.”In this repair, we will stop

the crude distiller and conversion device,”Billant says.” We will maintain the gasoil hydrotreater and reformer as well. That will certainly produce the hydrogen needed for HVO manufacturing. We will certainly likewise keep the naptha hydrotreater. And also we will certainly maintain making use of many of, however not all, the existing storage space. “Axens did not reply to requests

to speak concerning this task and the Vegan procedure. Billant says Axens’ innovation was picked vs. other providings in the marketplace considering that Total amount’s assessment exposed that it was “ideal able to fulfill our assumptions for the job. “An Oct. 21 press launch from Axens specified,”

Vegan innovation essentially is composed

[of] hydroprocessing any sort of kind/mixture of renewable lipids right into ultra-clean iso-paraffins. The resulting premium mix of bio-paraffins exhibits a high cetane number, tunable cold-flow homes, has virtually no sulfur or fragrant substances and is effortlessly mixed into routine diesel or jet fuel source. “France will be the target market for La Mède’s HVO manufacturing, offered its growing demand for biodiesel as well as HVO, Billant claims. Various other EU countries are prospective markets also. “In 2020, European demand [for HVO and similar sophisticated renewables] will certainly boost to 10 percent of transport fuels,”he says. Billant claims HVO makes good sense to satisfy rising French as well as EU demand for biofuels, because FAME mixing in the EU is covered at 7

percent. In early 2015, France’s energy ministry upped the permitted focus to 8 percent. There is no cap on HVO blending. “With the constraints of esters, biodiesel is not always the only solution, thus, to fulfill expanding need, “Billant says. “That’s where HVO enters the game.”Additionally, Overall notes that France’s Energy Shift Act sets a target of 15 percent biofuels in 2030, including that Europe and France

will certainly require extra biofuel manufacturing to meet this objective.”France currently imports biodiesel(462,000 bunches in 2013 and 576,000 lots in 2014 ), as well as even more compared to 20 percent of the biodiesel generated domestically is made from non-French crops (2013 figures),”the firm states. When asked exactly what the most difficult facet of this huge repair is, Billant asked,” The most difficult

, or exciting? We’re relocating from a circumstance where this website was losing money, so we’re doing this conversion to make it rewarding. The obstacle begins there. Allow’s make it rewarding.” Writer: Ron Kotrba Editor, Biodiesel Magazine!.?.!218-745-8347!.?.!!.?.! Biodiesel Plantations International