Italian company Eni has signed an agreement to license its slurry technology for converting heavy feedstocks into lighter components to France-based Total.

Under the special license and research and development (R&D) cooperation agreement, the firms have already commenced joint work to assess how the Eni Slurry technology (EST) can be used by Total.

Eni Refining & Marketing and Chemicals portfolio management & supply and licensing executive vice-president Giacomo Rispoli said: "After two years of successful operation of the Sannazzaro refinery’s EST unit, the first of its kind in the world, a new, proven technology is now commercially available to be assessed as an option for upgrading the bottom of the barrel.

"The technology arrives more than 40 years after the existing processes were first developed and is the result of 15 years of R&D and commercial demonstrations."

The Slurry technology has been in service with the Eni-owned 180,000 barrels per day capacity Sannazzaro refinery located in the Turin-Milan-Genoa industrial triangle, in Italy’s Po Valley, since 2013.

In addition to valorizing the exploitation of unconventional crudes, the EST technology is designed to produce gasoline and gasoil leaving no residues.

Total Refining & Chemicals Strategy, Development and Research senior vice president Nathalie Brunelle said: "One of the challenges for refining activities is to keep pace, within an economically viable model, with trends in oil markets, especially those resulting from changing legislation and fuel specifications.

"This R&D cooperation project with Eni allows Total to enhance its know-how and expertise, and to have access to another proven technology for bottom of the barrel conversion."

Based on hydro-conversion process, the technology will also help in the transformation of methane in a high quality liquid fuel through hydrogen production.