French energy company Total is investing more than €500 million to convert its Grandpuits refinery southeast of Paris in France into a zero-crude facility to produce fuels and plastics.
Crude oil refining at the site will cease in Q1 2021, and the storage of petroleum products will end in late 2023. A leak of the 260 km Ile-de-France pipeline (PLIF), which carries crude oil from the Port of Le Havre to the Grandpuits refinery forced a shutdown for five months in 2019, and the refinery has since been operating at only 70% capacity after pressure in the pipeline was reduced to prevent further leaks. Total carried out an audit on the pipeline which showed that it needed to be completely replaced at a cost of €600 million, and took the decision end refining.
The conversion will be complete in 2024 with three new industrial units. A new biorefinery will process around 400,000 tpa of used cooking oil, animal fats from Europe and other vegetable oils into 170,000 tonnes of sustainable aviation fuel, 120,000 tonnes of renewable diesel and 50,000 tonnes of renewable naphtha, used to produce bioplastics.
Total will build a bioplastics plant in a 50:50 joint venture with Dutch bio-based chemicals company Corbion, to produce 100,000 tpa of PLA bioplastic from sugar. Total Corbion already operates a PLA plant in Thailand and the second plant will make the JV the biggest PLA producer in the world.
In a joint venture with UK chemical recycling company Plastic Energy (40%), Total (60%) will build France’s first chemical recycling plant. This plant will use a pyrolysis process to convert plastic waste into a liquid called TACOIL which can be used as a feedstock for new polymers, suitable for food-grade applications. Total says that this unit will help it meet its goal of producing 30% of its polymers from recycled materials by 2030.
Total will also build a 28 MWp photovoltaic solar plant at the Grandpuits site and an 24 MWp plant at its Gargenville site through its wholly-owned renewables affiliate Total Quadran.
Total says that there will be no layoffs, with around 250 staff retained and others redeployed to other Total sites or offered early retirement. The redevelopment work is expected to generate around 1,000 new jobs.
‘With the industrial repurposing of the Grandpuits refinery into a zero-crude platform focused on energies of the future connected with biomass and the circular economy, Total is demonstrating its commitment to the energy transition and reaffirming its ambition to achieve carbon neutrality in Europe by 2050. Grandpuits will remain a major industrial site drawing on the know-how and expertise of its teams, and our partner firms will be playing a key role as well,’ says Bernard Pinatel, president of Total Refining & Chemicals.