Total has announced that it is terminating its oil refining activities at its Grandpuits refinery in Seine-et-Marne, France as of the first quarter of 2021. According to a statement released by the company today, the storage of petroleum products will end in late 2023.
By 2024, following an investment totalling more than €500 million, the platform will be fully repurposed into a zero-crude platform focused on four new industrial activities. These include the production of renewable diesel aviation fuel, bioplastics, plastics recycling and the operation of two photovoltaic solar power plants.
The decision follows a five-month shutdown last year when the 260-kilometer Ile-de-France pipeline, which carries crude oil from the Port of Le Havre to the Grandpuits refinery, developed a leak. The pipeline's maximum working pressure was subsequently reduced to ensure safe operation, which meant that the refinery could operate at only 70% of its capacity.
An audit then showed that normal operations could be restored only by replacing the pipeline, at a cost of nearly €600 million. In the light of France’s energy transition plans, this was not an economically viable choice. Instead, the company has now opted to cease its refining activities at the site and to launch what is being called the "Projet Galaxie".
Total says that the entire operation will lead to no redundancies being made, but that a solution will be found for all employees through transfers and early retirements.
Of the current 400 jobs, 250 will be maintained after the conversion and an additional 15 jobs will be created on the Grandpuits site in a packaging unit connected to the bioplastics unit.
Total emphasised it will meet all contractual commitments to its customers.
The conversion will involve a more than €500 million investment in the construction of three new industrial units and two photovoltaic solar plants. The latter plants will be built and operated by Total Quadran, a wholly-owned Total affiliate that specialises in renewable energy development and production in France.
The new biorefinery will primarily process animal fats and used cooking oil, supplemented with other vegetable oils, with the exception of palm oil. Total will prioritize local suppliers.
The new unit will be able to process 400,000 tons per year, with a potential annual production of 170,000 tons of sustainable aviation fuel,120,000 tons of renewable diesel and 50,000 tons of renewable naphtha, which will be used to produce bioplastics.
A new bioplastics plant will be built by Total Corbion PLA, a 50/50 joint venture between Total and Corbion, will become Europe’s first PLA manufacturing plant. The joint venture, formed in 2017, successfully launched its first PLA plant in Thailand in 2018. With a projected annual production capacity of 100,000 tons, the project, once on stream, will make Total Corbion PLA the world’s biggest producer of PLA. Start-up of this second plant is scheduled for 2024.
The total investment in this project is expected to be approximately 200 million Euro and Corbion will continue to be the supplier of lactic acid.
The platform will also boast a new chemical recycling plant for plastics, a project that will be realised in partnership with Plastic Energy, in which Total will hold a 60% stake and Plastic Energy 40%.
At the plant, plastic waste will be converted into Tacoil via a pyrolysis melting process, which will be used to produce polymers with virgin-like properties. Importantly, the resins produced based on this technology will be suitable for use in food-grade applications—a major criterion for food packaging businesses.
The new unit will help Total meet its objective of producing 30% of its polymers from recycled materials by 2030.