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The new refining platform will reduce high sulphur heavy fuel oil output in anticipation of the introduction of the global 0.5% sulphur cap in 2020, says the company.

Launched in 2013, the €1 billion upgrade has involved the construction of a desaphalting unit and a hydrocracker to increase the production of clean and high value-added products.

Steam cracker flexibility has also been increased to maximise the processing of low cost advantaged feedstock, and a new unit has been built to convert rich gases into cracker feedstock

‘This major project is a perfect example of our strategy, which is to constantly strengthen the industrial competitiveness of our major integrated platforms to position them among the industry's best,’ commented Bernard Pinatel, President, Total Refining & Chemicals.

‘It also illustrates our ambition in petrochemicals, where we aim to capitalise on the market's growth by processing low-cost feedstock. Antwerp's steam crackers will now be able to process up to 60% advantaged feedstock derived from gas, which are cheaper than naphtha, derived from oil.’

News of the Total refinery upgrade follows on from a report by Reuters yesterday that the $1 billion fuel upgrading unit at ExxonMobil's Antwerp refinery is slated to be fully operational in the first half of 2018.

The delayed coker unit will see the 320,000 barrel per day refinery cease high sulphur fuel oil production and switch to the production of diesel, again ahead of the 2020 global sulphur cap.

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