Chevron said it is also upgrading the Richmond facility and its plant in Pascagoula, Mississippi – both of which currently produce Group II oils – to enable output of Group II+. The change will be made during the second half of 2019 and will give the plants combined capacity to make 9,100 barrels per day, or 460,000 t/y, of Group II+ and III oils, a spokesman said.
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The Richmond plant currently has capacity to make 20,700 b/d of Group II, while the Pascagoula plant can make 25,000 b/d of Group II. The company declined to say how the upgrades will affect Group II capacity.
Chevron, which is based in San Ramon, California, said the upgrades are being achieved by modifying the processing schemes of the plants. Officials added that they are making the changes in response to customer requests.
“Our customers want cost-effective solutions for blending lower-viscosity lubricants,” Vice President of Base Oils Tracey Gardiner said in a press release issued Sunday, explaining that the projects will impact the company’s 4 and 6 centiStoke oils, which are marketed as 100R and 220R, respectively. This included upgrading 100R base oil to Group II+ quality and lowering the Noack volatility of Chevrons 220R. The improved blending power in low-viscosity lubricant formulations means customers will be able to cover the broadest range of products with a fewer number of base oils.
Neste said the Group III oils produced by Chevron will be integrated into its existing product slate and will qualify for finished lubricant approvals held by oils produced at Neste’s wholly owned plant in Porvoo, Finland, and its Sitra, Bahrain, joint venture with Bahrain Petroleum Co. Neither company said how much Group III Chevron will make, but Neste said the output will be scalable.
North America has limited Group III capacity and imports large amounts of that grade from South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar. In a press release issued Monday, Neste said it entered the agreement with Chevron because an additional production site in the U.S. will provide efficient logistics integration into the global Neste supply lines.
Chevron’s plant in Richmond produced Group III oils between 1998 and 2012 and produced Group II+ during at least two stints starting in 1998 and 2003. Over the years officials said production yields dropped significantly when the plant made Group II+ or III oils.