By Ben DuBose
MILAN, Italy -- The European refining industry needs a technology breakthrough to face new
challenges such as rising demand and production in nearby
regions such as Asia and the Middle East, an executive with
Italian energy major eni
said on Wednesday.
Speaking at the IRPC 2012 conference, Giacomo Rispoli -
executive vice president of research and development (R&D)
and projects for eni
Refining & Marketing - said Europe "must be reindustrialized in
a different way" to survive non-EU competition.
"Refining is considered a
technologically mature sector," said Rispoli. "The last
significant development was in the 1960s with modern
hydrocracking. The industry desperately needs a technology breakthrough."
Rispoli noted that a rationalization process has been underway
in Europe since 2009, with nine
refineries closed (about 1 million bpd of combined capacity)
and another 11 still at risk.
In eni's own practice, the
company's refinery in Venice, Italy, was
shut for six months during 2011, he said.
However, Rispoli cited his company's EST (eni slurry technology) project as an
example of a possible new refinery paradigm.
In his view, EST can evolve from one plant at present to
an entirely new refinery scheme. In that fresh,
simplified scheme, the EST capability would allow the company
to produce fuel gas, LPG, naphtha and gasoil, he says, taking
crude oil from a distillation unit and natural gas
from a hydrogen plant.
"It reduces feedstock costs, traditional
investment and energy consumption, while increasing yields of
light products," Rispoli said.r
EU refiners must continue to make such innovations to stay
ahead of the curve, Rispoli said. Otherwise, the majority of
investments will be made in locations such as Asia and the
Middle East with a greater proximity to demand.
IRPC 2012 runs through Thursday. For more details, visit
the HPInformer blog or the event