The Fawley oil refinery near Southampton, Hampshire, on England’s south coast is the biggest and the oldest among the six refinery sites currently operational in the UK.
Owned and operated by Esso Petroleum, a subsidiary of US-based ExxonMobil, the Fawley facility processes 270,000 barrels of crude a day; accounting for approximately 20% of the UK’s total refining capacity.
The facility is undergoing an £800m ($1bn) expansion under the Fawley Strategy (FAST) project to add a new diesel plant which will increase ultralow-sulphur diesel production at the site by 45%.
Targeted for completion in 2021, the FAST project is expected to help reduce the UK’s diesel imports and create approximately 1,000 construction jobs.
ExxonMobil took a final investment decision (FID) on the project in April 2019 and received approval from the local regulatory authority in September 2019, while key contracts for the project were awarded in November 2019.
Fawley oil refinery history
The Atlantic Gulf and West Indies Company established the refinery in 1921. The plant was acquired by Esso in 1925. The complex was rebuilt and expanded as one of the UK’s biggest integrated refinery and petrochemical facility in 1951.
Location and site details
The Fawley refinery complex is situated on a 2,500acre-site on the western side of Southampton Water in the New Forest District of Hampshire.
The refinery site is strategically located with easy access to distribution centres across southern England. It also has export access to other markets in Europe and the Atlantic basin.
Fawley refinery expansion details
The refinery expansion under the FAST project includes a new diesel hydrotreater facility, a steam methane-reforming hydrogen plant, a diesel storage tank, as well as modifications to existing logistics infrastructure at the site.
The project is intended to increase ultralow-sulphur diesel output from the facility s by 38,000 barrels per day (bpd).
It is expected to help reduce the UK’s need to import diesel, as the country imported approximately half of its total diesel supply in 2018.
Infrastructure facilities at Fawley refinery
The Fawley refinery site features a mile-long modern marine terminal, which typically handles approximately 2,000 ship movements and 22 million tonnes (Mt) of crude oil and other products a year.
Crude oil is pumped through pipelines into one of the 330 storage tanks at the site each of 21,000m3 capacity.
The refinery processes more than 20 different types of crude oil in a year with a daily refining capacity of approximately 270,000 barrels of crude.
Apart from annually producing up to 30 million litres of clean refinery products including petrol, diesel and jet fuel, the refinery also supplies heavy naphtha and gas oil feedstock to the adjacent petrochemical facility for the production of different chemical products.
The refinery site houses an energy-efficient combined heat and power (CHP) generating facility which was built with an estimated investment of £60m in 1999.
The refinery and petrochemical complex draws over 300,000t of sea water a day for cooling purposes.
Products from the Fawley refinery and petrochemical complex
The Fawley facility produces a full range of refinery products including liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), petrol, jet fuel, diesel, marine fuels, heating oil, lubricants, and fuel oil.
The petrochemical complex annually produces approximately 750,000t of chemical products including ethylene, propene and butane, methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), halobutyl rubbers, lubricating base oils, specialty chemicals, and additives.
Products transportation and distribution network
Approximately 85% of refinery products are transported through a network of approximately 700km of underground pipelines connecting five distribution terminals as well as the facilities at Heathrow, Gatwick, and Birmingham airports. The remaining refinery products are transported by sea to coastal distribution terminals.
ExxonMobil serves approximately 800,000 UK customers a day through its retail network of approximately 1,100 Esso-branded service stations in the country.
More than 90% of the chemical products produced at the Fawley petrochemical facility are shipped from the deep water marine terminal to ExxonMobil’s chemical plants in Europe or to third party customers for further processing.
Contractors involved with the FAST project
Fluor Corporation was contracted for the engineering, procurement, fabrication, and construction of the new diesel hydrotreater facility and the hydrogen plant as part of the refinery’s expansion in November 2019.
Fluor also provided front-end engineering design (FEED) services for the FAST project.