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Shell to repurpose German refinery

Anglo–Dutch energy company Shell has announced that it will move its Rheinland refinery in Germany away from refining crude oil and toward low-carbon products by 2025.

The move is part of the company’s plan to become a net-zero emissions company by 2050. The facility will be renamed Shell Energy and Chemicals Park Rheinland and will focus on producing fuels like renewable liquefied biogas (bio-LNG), sustainable aviation fuel and green hydrogen.

The Wesseling refinery is one of two that Shell has in the Rheinland, and it has the capacity to refine 150,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The other facility at Godorf will continue to distil crude oil for mineral oil products like hydraulic oil.

Shell employs about 3,000 people at the site, some directly and others through contractors. Workers will be offered retirement, be transferred to other jobs or be retrained if needed to avoid redundancies wherever possible.

The Wesseling site is already home to a 10-megawatt plant for producing green hydrogen through electrolysis. Funding from the European Union has already been approved to scale it up to 100 megawatts, but the project is still awaiting a final investment decision (FID) from Shell. Also awaiting a FID at Wesseling is a new power-to-liquid plant that will produce naptha and synthetic aviation fuel from biomass and renewable energy.

Shell Germany’s CEO, Fabian Ziegler, previously said that green hydrogen was still five times more expensive to produce than grey hydrogen from fossil fuels, but that it could be made cost-competitive through scale and efficiency improvements, combined with carbon pricing and policy support.

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