US oil/petrochemical firm ExxonMobil says it has made a final investment decision to spend more than US$1billion expanding its Fawley refinery in the UK, to increase production of ultra-low sulphur diesel by almost 45%, or 38,000 barrels per day, along with logistics improvements.
The investment is the biggest the company has made in the UK for nearly 30 years, and much higher than the US$650 million it originally estimated it would spend on the project in September last year.
The investment, it says, will help reduce the need to import diesel into the UK, which imported about half of its supply in 2017.
The investment includes a hydrotreater unit to remove sulphur from fuel, supported by a hydrogen plant, which combined will also help improve the refinery’s overall energy efficiency. Ultra-low sulphur fuels lead to improved air quality when powering the latest technology engines on tractor-trailers, buses, marine vessels and off-road equipment.
Detailed engineering and design is underway. Construction is scheduled to begin in late 2019, subject to regulatory approval, and start-up is expected in 2021. At its peak, building activity will support up to 1,000 construction jobs.
Located on Southampton Water, the Fawley site also has strategic access to distribution logistics across southern England and export access to other markets in Europe and the Atlantic basin.
“ExxonMobil continues to invest in the Fawley refinery and chemical plant, Britain’s largest integrated facility,” said Bryan Milton, president of ExxonMobil Fuels and Lubricants Company. “This investment will make Fawley refinery the most efficient in the United Kingdom, supporting Esso’s industry-leading logistics and fuels marketing operations.”
Alongside recent investments at ExxonMobil’s refineries on the US Gulf Coast, Rotterdam, Antwerp, and Singapore, the project will contribute to ExxonMobil’s announced plans to significantly increase the earnings potential of its downstream business by 2025.
The decision follows an announcement earlier this month to invest in an expansion project at its Singapore refining and petrochemical complex to increase yields of higher-value products.