Shell Transforms Wesseling Site to Meet Growing Lubricant Demand

By Editor


Shell Deutschland has announced its decision to repurpose the hydrocracker at the Wesseling site, located in the Energy and Chemicals Park Rheinland, into a production unit for Group III base oils.

These specialized base oils are crucial in the production of high-quality lubricants, including those used in engines and transmissions. The move is part of Shell’s broader strategy to reduce emissions and enhance its value proposition.

The transformation plan outlines the cessation of crude oil processing at the Wesseling site by 2025, while crude oil processing will continue at the Godorf site.

“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,” Huibert Vigeveno, Shell’s Downstream and Renewables Director, said.

The base oil plant at Wesseling will see a high degree of electrification, aligning with Shell’s commitment to reduce scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions by approximately 620,000 tonnes per year. This reduction encompasses emissions directly from operations and those associated with the energy procured for operational needs. Shell aims to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

The newly repurposed base oil plant is slated to commence operations in the second half of the decade. With a production capacity of around 300,000 tonnes annually, it is anticipated to meet 9 percent of the current EU demand and 40 percent of Germany’s demand for base oils.

The project is financed by Shell’s Chemicals and Products business, meeting the minimum acceptable internal rate of return set out at the Capital Markets Day in 2023.

Group III base oils, produced through hydrocracking technology, are mineral base oils with very high viscosity and play a crucial role in the production of premium engine and transmission oils.

Shell has been actively driving the transformation of the Energy and Chemicals Park Rheinland, evident in previous investments such as a 10-megawatt electrolyser for renewable hydrogen production and a biomethane liquefaction plant.

The Energy and Chemicals Park Rheinland, situated near Cologne and comprised of the Wesseling and Godorf sites, currently processes over 17 million tonnes of crude oil annually, with 7.5 million tonnes processed at the Wesseling site. Despite the cessation of crude oil processing at Wesseling, Shell assures that fuel supplies for the German market will remain stable and secure.

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