The Pernis refinery, which features a hydrocracker and a polygeneration plant, is claimed to be the largest integrated refinery complex in Europe.

The SDA unit is designed to enable the refinery to upgrade a larger part of its oil intake into lighter, high-grade products by removing heavier fractions from crude oil.

Shell global manufacturing business executive vice-president Lori Ryerkerk said: "This important investment demonstrates our ongoing commitment to refining.

"The Pernis refinery plays a key role in the European market and this modern and innovative unit will further improve its performance and competitiveness."

Upon securing necessary approvals, Shell plans to start construction work on the new unit in 2016 and complete it by the end of 2018.

Without changing the refinery’s overall processing capacity, the new unit will allow a different product mix. The new unit requires modification to some existing units to comply with its operation.

Shell also expects the SDA unit to provide more flexibility to the refinery to respond to market developments while reducing the products’ environmental impact.

Spread over 1,400 acres, Shell Pernis is a joint oil refinery/chemicals manufacturing site with a capacity of 404,000 barrels per day.

The oil refinery is operated by Shell Nederland Raffinaderij while the chemicals plant by Shell Nederland Chemie.

In March, the company closed large parts of the Pernis refinery complex and carried out planned maintenance, reported Reuters earlier.