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Shell to convert German facility to make base oil

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The German arm of UK-based oil major Shell has announced that it will repurpose its hydrocracker at the Energy and Chemicals Park Rheinland in Wesseling.

The refining of crude oil into fuels will now end, and the facility will instead produce Group III base oils for use in producing advanced lubricants like passenger car engine oil and transmission oil.

The new oil plant will be heavily electrified, and together with the end of refining crude oil into fuels at the plant, Shell expects a 620,000 tonne reduction in its Scope 1 and 2 emissions, which relate to the direct emissions from its operations and the energy needed to run those operations, respectively.

The director for downstream and renewables at Shell, Huibert Vigeveno, said about the decision:

“The repurposing of this European refinery is a significant step towards serving our growing lubricant customer base with premium base oils. This investment is part of Shell’s drive to create more value with less emissions.”

A hydrocracker creates a reaction between hydrogen and hydrocarbons under high temperature and pressure together with the use of a catalyst. This enables low-quality, heavy hydrocarbons to be transformed into high-quality, lighter goods like chemical feedstocks, transport fuels and base oils.

Group III base oil is produced using hydrocracking to achieve a high viscosity index for a mineral oil. Shell expects a growing market for high-quality products based on this feedstock, such as e-fluids and coolants, transmission oil and engine oil.

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