The 10.5 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) Grupa Lotos oil refinery located in Gdansk is one of the two refineries operational in Poland.

Grupa Lotos, an integrated oil and gas company based in Poland, is the owner and operator of the refinery. The Polish State Treasury is the main shareholder with 53.19% stake in the company.

The Gdansk refinery commenced operations with a 3Mtpa crude processing capacity in 1975. The refining capacity was first increased to 4.5Mtpa in 1999 and then to 6Mtpa in 2006. It was further increased to 10.5Mtpa through an expansion and upgrade of the refinery in 2011.

The refinery’s Nelson Complexity Index (NCI) was increased to 11.1 through an effective refining programme (EFRA) to improve product yield and quality in 2019. A hydrocracked base oil (HBO) project was also launched in September 2021 to produce 400,000 tonnes (t) of Group II base oils a year from the Gdansk refinery from 2025 onwards.

Proposed acquisition of Grupa Lotos

Polski Koncern Naftowy (PKN Orlen), which owns and operates the 16.3Mtpa Plock refinery, the only other refinery in Poland, signed a letter of intent with the Polish State Treasury to acquire Grupa Lotos in February 2018. The proposed acquisition was conditionally approved by the European Commission (EC), under the European Union (EU) Merger Regulation, in July 2020.

PKN Orlen is the biggest Polish refiner that also operates the 10.2Mtpa Lietuva refinery in Mazeikiai, Lithuania, and the 5.4Mtpa Litvinov-Zaluzi and the 3.3Mtpa Kralupy Unipetrol refineries in the Czech Republic.

Gdansk refinery location and feedstock supply

The Grupa Lotos oil refinery complex is spread over a 220ha site in Gdansk, a port city on the Baltic coast in northern Poland.

The refinery uses Russian export blend crude oil (REBCO) as the main feedstock. It also receives crude oil from Poland, Lithuania, and other countries.The refinery is connected by feedstock and product pipelines to the liquid fuel handling facilities at Port Połnocny, Gdansk.

Grupa Lotos oil refinery processes and products

The Gdansk oil refinery comprises a crude distillation facility, a mild hydrocracker (MHC) unit, a delayed coking unit (DCU), a coker naphtha hydrotreating unit, and a hydrogen recovery unit (HRU) that started operations in May 2021.

The refinery processed 10.2Mt of crude oil in 2020. Its products include petrol, diesel, naphtha, light fuel oils, jet fuel, LPG, bitumen, heavy fuel oil, base oil, and petcoke. A major portion of the refinery’s output is supplied to the Polish market.

Grupa Lotos hydrocracked base oil (HBO) project details

The key contract for the HBO project at the Gdansk refinery was awarded in September 2021. The £260m ($356m) project includes the construction of a hydrocracking unit designed to operate on catalytic dewaxing and hydrotreating processes, feedstock and product tanks, interconnecting pipelines, and a power supply station.

The hydrowax vacuum distillation unit (HVDU), constructed as part of the refinery’s EFRA project, will supply vacuum distillates as feedstock to the HBO facility, which will operate under a technology licence from Chevron Lummus Global (CLG).

Targeted for commissioning in the first half of 2025, the HBO project will enable the production of more than 400 thousand tonnes (Kt) of Group II base oils a year, apart from producing significant volumes of fuel intermediates.

EFRA project at Gdansk oil refinery

The EFRA project, which was completed in 2019, involved the installation of a 350,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) DCU, an 18,000 tonnes per day (tpd) coker naphtha hydrotreating unit, a 2,280tpd HVDU, and a 24,000 normal cubic metres per hour (Nm3/hr) hydrogen generation unit.

A liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) treatment unit and a coke logistics and storage facility were also constructed as part of the project.

The new units enabled the refinery to produce an additional 900,000tpa of middle distillates by processing the same volume of crude oil.

Contractors involved in the Gdansk refinery upgrade

KT-Kinetics Technology, a subsidiary of Maire Tecnimont, a downstream oil and gas plant engineering firm based in Italy, bagged a lump-sum turnkey engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract worth £171m ($234m) for the Grupa Lotos HBO project in September 2021.

KT-Kinetics Technology was also awarded an EPC contract for upgrading the refinery units as part of the Gdansk refinery’s EFRA project in July 2015.

Fluor Corporation, a global engineering and construction company based in the US, was engaged in multiple expansion and modernisation projects of the Grupa Lotos oil refinery between 1994 and 2010.