- Further investment in strategic position of Antwerp refinery, one of the most modern and efficient in the world.
- Meets the demand for cleaner fuels in the context of the new 2020 standards of the International Maritime Organization.
- Over the past 15 years, ExxonMobil has invested 2.6 billion euros in Belgium.
Antwerp, 2 April 2019 – In the Port of Antwerp today, in the presence of many prominent figures, ExxonMobil celebrated the start-up of a large new installation at the refinery. Its construction represents an investment of more than a billion euros. This new plant converts heavy, high-sulfur oil products into cleaner transportation fuels.
The ceremony was attended by Flemish Minister-President Geert Bourgeois, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Work, Economy and Consumer Affairs Kris Peeters, the U.S. Ambassador Ronald J. Gidwitz and Antwerp mayor Bart De Wever. Deputy Prime Minister Peeters spoke about the importance for the wider region: “The investment of ExxonMobil is important for employment in, and the competitive position of, the port of Antwerp. As a result, 70 more jobs are being created and the port of Antwerp remains the engine of the Belgian economy."
Minister-President Bourgeois expressed satisfaction with the new installation: “It is fantastic that Flanders continues to attract mega-investments like this. Sustainability and innovation go hand in hand. Flanders is therefore committed to ensuring that top international companies can continue to make these investments. "
From a ship in the Hansa dock with a view of the impressive installation prominent figures and top management of ExxonMobil pressed the start button of the Delayed Coker Unit (DCU). Due to its large size and the impact of the factory on the production process of cleaner transport fuels, the DCU is shaping a new horizon in the Port of Antwerp.
Antwerp's Strategic Position Further Strengthened
Host Jan Michielsen, CEO of ExxonMobil Benelux, emphasized the importance of the new plant for the strategic position of the Antwerp refinery and its ability to compete in a challenging environment for European refineries. “This investment of one billion euros proves that ExxonMobil continues to play an important role in Antwerp. With this new factory, we meet the demand for low-sulfur transportation fuels and create new high-quality jobs. Along with the previous investments, it makes the Antwerp refinery one of the most modern and efficient in the world.”
Over the last 15 years, ExxonMobil has invested 2.6 billion euros in Belgium. In 2010, a cogeneration plant was commissioned and in 2008 a desulphurization plant. ExxonMobil also contributes strongly to the employment of contractors. During the construction of the DCU, an average of 1,600 extra workers worked on the site, with nearly 3,000 at peak times.
Cleaner Transportation Fuels Meet New 2020 Standards
The DCU converts heavy, high-sulfur oil products into cleaner transport fuels, such as diesel and marine gasoil. Dave Brownell, Senior Vice President of ExxonMobil Fuels & Lubricants: “With the Delayed Coker Unit we meet the stricter 2020 standards that the International Maritime Organization imposes for sulfur emissions and we meet the increasing demand for cleaner transport fuels. Moreover, the sulfur emissions from the refinery itself will also decrease by 75%."
Technological Innovations as Part of the Solution
It is through the constant commitment to technology and innovation that ExxonMobil contributes to finding solutions to the dual challenge: the rising demand for affordable energy on the one hand and the risks of climate change on the other. The company invests $1 billion annually in research and development, including low-emission technologies such as CO2 capture and storage, or Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and advanced biofuels such as from algae. "We therefore welcome the CCUS initiative from the Port of Antwerp to develop infrastructure that can facilitate the capture, use and storage of CO2 and look forward to exploring opportunities for cooperation,”concludes Jan Michielsen.
About ExxonMobil in Belgium
In addition to the Antwerp refinery, ExxonMobil Petroleum & Chemical BVBA has chemical plants and branches at various other locations. The company supplies the market with fuels and lubricants under the Esso and Mobil brands. The refinery in Antwerp has a production capacity of approximately 320,000 barrels per day and has been in operation since 1953. In Belgium, 1,500 people work for ExxonMobil. ExxonMobil spends about 1.3 billion euros a year on goods and services at large and small Belgian companies.
Groundbreaking Research Into Biofuels and CCS
ExxonMobil's own research centers are involved in pioneering energy processes, biofuels, carbon capture and storage, natural gas technologies and advanced energy-saving materials.
A good example is our portfolio of biofuel research programs. In it, we work with research partners on a new generation of sustainable and affordable biofuels that do not compete with food production or water supply. In Europe, ExxonMobil is working with the Swiss company Clariant on biodiesel from biomass and a new technology will be tested in a pilot plant in Germany.
Research into bio-oil from algae is also well-known. This oil can be processed in ExxonMobil's existing refineries for, among other things, biofuels for aviation and as a bio-food for the chemical industry. Scientific breakthroughs have already been achieved in this area together with Synthetic Genomics, and by 2025 ExxonMobil wants to be able to produce 10,000 barrels of biofuel per day from algae.
In another area, ExxonMobil sees - just like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the International Energy Agency - an essential role for capturing CO2 in achieving the global emission reduction targets. With Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (or CCUS), CO2, which is otherwise released into the atmosphere, is captured, compressed and safely permanently stored or reused underground.
ExxonMobil already captures around seven million tons of CO2 annually, making it a forerunner in this important technology for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Since 1970, ExxonMobil has cumulatively captured more CO2 than any other company - accounting for 40% of all CO2 captured so far. We are also working on pioneering fuel cell technology, with the aim of greatly reducing the costs of CO2 capture.