Production of low-sulfur diesel in Antwerp will be established by building a high-pressure desulfuring unit to inject hydrogen, at high pressure, into the diesel. Such a unit takes about two years to construct. Hence, ExxonMobil Antwerp hopes to start production of low-sulfur diesel by the end of 2010. The three new refineries will be able to produce a total of 22 million liters of low-sulfur diesel a day.
Conventional diesel contains an average of 1,000 ppm (parts per million) of sulfur. The desulfuring process reduces this amount to 10 ppm, which is very beneficial for both the environment and public health. At the moment, most of the cars in Flanders already use low-sulfur diesel, whereas most of the heating oil used in houses is still the traditional type. Thanks to the new refinery in Antwerp, the production of desulfured diesel will be enough to also allow domestic heating systems to switch to the healthier fuel.
The ExxonMobil refinery, situated in the Antwerp docklands, is the company’s second largest in Europe. It processes a total of 16 million tonnes of crude oil a year – or 305,000 barrels a day – and employs 570 people. (reported by De Tijd newspaper)