Total to transform La Mède crude facility into biorefinery
Total has announced an investment of €200 million to transform the La Mède refinery and create France's first biorefinery, which will be one of the biggest in Europe, to meet growing demand for biofuels.
In order to sustainably restore the competitiveness of its La Mède site, Total will transform some existing units for activities with strong future prospects. The group will also maintain certain petroleum product refining operations, but halt processing of crude oil, which is reporting heavy losses, at the end of 2016.
The site's flagship operation will be a 500,000-tonne-per-year biorefinery that will manufacture biodiesel primarily from used oils, as well as renewable feedstock. The hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) process selected by Total is a French technology developed by Axens that produces high-quality biodiesel that is easily blended into regular diesel in any proportion, with no adverse impact on fuel quality or engines.
An EU directive sets a target of 10% renewables in transportation in 2020. In France, the draft bill on the energy transition toward green growth calls for increasing the share of biofuels to 15% in 2030 from 7.7% today.
La Mède's transformation reflects Total's determination to play an active role in the development of renewable energies, especially biomass, which will be needed to partner fossil fuels to ensure that energy demand is met while at the same time mitigating carbon dioxide emissions.
While some of the site's units are transformed and crude oil refining is halted, Total will maintain profitable refining activities and develop new ones:
• Continuing to operate certain existing refining units (naphtha reformer) to produce the hydrogen needed for biorefining. The existing synergies between La Mède, Naphtachimie and local petrochemical operations will be maintained and Total is confirming its lasting commitment to Naphtachimie, a 50-50 joint venture with Ineos. The group will also expand its production of jet fuel for civil aviation, targeting a 30% share of the overall European market from the La Mède site.
• Developing a logistics and storage hub (capacity of 1.3 million m3) dedicated to refined product trading operations and supplying Total customers. The hub will generate business for the Port of Marseille Fos.
• Building an 8MW solar farm using technology developed by Total affiliate SunPower, to meet 50% of the site's power needs.
• Building a unit to produce AdBlue, an additive that reduces nitrogen oxide emissions by diesel engines and whose market is expanding strongly.
Total will join initiatives by local communities to promote the development of new business in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region. In particular, it will set up a support fund to help the contractors and service providers affected by the site's transformation.