Italian oil and gas major Eni has started work on applying Eni Slurry Technology (EST) at its Sannazzaro de Burgondi refinery, located near Pavia in northern Italy.
EST is Enis proprietary technology for the conversion of heavy oil residues in fine products, gasoline and gasoil. The process converts waste oil, heavy crude and tar sands into high-quality and performance fuels.
The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2012 with the start of a 23,000-bpd plant.
What is EST?
The EST technology, funded by Eni with an investment of over 1.1bn, is based on a hydro-conversion process developed through a special catalyst and a current of hydrogen self-produced starting from methane.
That means that EST also can transform methane into a high-quality liquid fuel through hydrogen production, the company said.
Switching away from traditional technologies.
The technology allows Eni to produce gasoline and gasoil without coke or fuel oil, making the Sannazzaro a zero-fuel-oil refinery.
Company officials noted that coke and fuel oil markets were constantly declining.
On the other hand, EST is significantly more beneficial than traditional technologies because it is able to enhance non-conventional oil resources found throughout the world, especially in Canada and Venezuela, they said.
Overall, non-conventional oil resources account for roughly three times the estimated reserves of conventional crude, the company said.
History of project.
Work commenced during the 1990s at the companys San Donato Milanese labs.
Works continued at the Taranto refinery, where a 1,200-bpd demo plant started operations in 2005, representing the reference point of the Sannazzaro plant.
The design of the new plant, which will be carried out in accordance with the highest technological and environmental standards, began in mid-2008 and involved Saipem for the engineering activities, company officials said.
Supply of the reactor, which is the core of the chemical process, began in 2009.
About 1,000 construction employees are currently on site at the refinery, with as many as 2,000 expected at its peak, Eni said.
Thus far, workers have logged about 500,000 hours without an injury. That figure reflects Enis commitment to proper safety procedures, it said.
Construction should wrap up by late 2012. HP
| Fig. 1. Construction of Enis plant is ongoing and will be complete by late 2012.|
| Fig. 2. Diagram of EST project technology. |