ExxonMobil revealed plans Monday to produce API Group II base stocks at its Rotterdam, Netherlands, refinery starting in 2018.
Esso Nederland BV, an ExxonMobil affiliate, recently filed an environmental impact assessment with the regional environmental protection agency for the project.
Construction at the Rotterdam refinery – subject to obtaining regulatory approvals and final funding authorization by Esso Nederland BV – is scheduled to begin in 2016.
“The European [base oil] production would support global network and evolving customer quality requirements,” an ExxonMobil spokesperson told Lube Report. The company doesn’t disclose base oil production capacity figures, the spokesperson said.
“If approved, the planned production of Group II base stocks at the Rotterdam refinery will meet our customers’ needs for a reliable supply of high quality base stocks,” George Arndt, general manager of global base stock and specialties for ExxonMobil Fuels & Lubricants, said in a news release. “The addition of EHC base stocks in Europe will help our customers as they seek new growth opportunities throughout the European market and around the world.” EHC is the brand name for ExxonMobil’s Group II base stocks.
The company said the proposed project will be integrated into existing facilities to minimize environmental impacts and use proprietary technology to efficiently produce light and heavy base stocks and low sulfur diesel fuel.
Stephen B. Ames of SBA Consulting, Pepper Pike, Ohio, told Lube Report the Rotterdam project was “not an unexpected move as Europe is conspicuous by its absence in an ExxonMobil global Group II base oil offer.”
“With construction to start next year and streaming planned for 2018, the short timeframe implies they will use some existing facilities and most probably the existing 52,500 barrels per day high-severity diesel hydrocracker,” Ames noted. “An all-hydroprocessing scheme is the lowest cost method of producing Group II base oils, and Rotterdam has ExxonMobil's only hydrocracker in Europe.”
Without reducing severity, the Rotterdam hydrocracker likely has about 15 percent to 20 percent (8,000 to 10,500 b/d) of unconverted oil (UCO) potentially available as base oil feedstock, according to Ames, but it would probably be Group III quality. “However, by reducing severity to mild (lube) hydrocracking levels, as much as 21,000-26,000 b/d of UCO is possible and of a Group II quality,” he added.
Assuming a circa 84 percent yield across subsequent hydroisomerisation and hydrofinishing steps implies as much as 900,000 to 1.1 million metric tons per year of Group II output is possible, Ames suggested. “ExxonMobil never does anything in a small way,” he added.
The company announced plans in February 2013 to expand Group II and II+ EHC production capacity at its Baytown, Texas, plant by early 2015. The plant currently has about 9,800 b/d of Group I and 11,700 b/d of Group II capacity, according to the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers’ 2012 Lubricating Oil and Wax Capacities Report.
In June 2013, ExxonMobil announced plans to expand Group II base stock production capacity at its Singapore refinery by early 2015. The Singapore plant currently has 25,000 b/d of Group II capacity, according to Lubes’n’Greases’ 2014 Guide to Global Base Oil Refining.