Shell to Sell More Refineries


Oil giant Shell announced this month that it is trying to sell refineries in Stanlow, U.K., and in Montreal – both of which include base oil plants. As announced earlier this year, the company is still considering offers for a Harburg, Germany, refinery which also has a base oil plant. Combined, the three base oil plants have capacity to make 14,060 barrels per day.

Shell actually has two German refineries up for sale. The other, in Heider, does not have a base oil plant.

Shell declined this week to discuss any offers that it has received, but the U.K.s Financial Times reported Aug. 18 that Indian conglomerate Essar has submitted a bid for the three European refineries. The Times article said Valero, Libya and a Saudi investment firm have also expressed interest.

Shell spokesman Ranier Winzenried said the refineries need not be sold together and that management has not set a deadline.

The timeline is open-ended on all of them, Winzenried said.

The base oil plant at Stanlow has capacity to make 5,060 b/d of API Group I stocks. The Harburg plant has capacity to make 3,300 b/d of Group I paraffinic oils plus 3,000 b/d of naphthenics. Montreal has Group I capacity of 2,700 b/d.

Shell is looking to dispose of all four refineries as part of an effort to cut costs. Winzenried said offer to sell the German facilities was announced earlier – in March – because the company wanted to notify workers. If it does not find buyers for the German refineries, Shell has said, it will either transform them into other types of operations or close them. Winzenried said that is not the case with U.K. refinery, the largest of the four. If a buyer is not found for Stanlow, Shell will continue to operate it.

Whatever happens to the refineries, Shell plans to keep lubricant blending plants near the Harburg and Stanlow facilities.

Besides the three that are on the block, Shell owns or has equity positions in another five base oil refineries around the world. Put together, its total base oil capacity is about 75,200 b/d, a figure that would be reduced by 19 percent if the Harburg, Stanlow and Montreal plants all find buyers or are closed. It will quickly make up that lost ground, however, when it brings its 28,800 b/d gas-to-liquids joint venture on stream over the next two years in Ras Laffan, Qatar. When the Qatar venture is fully operating, Shell’s total base oil capacity will be in the range of 100,000 b/d.

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