The ISAB refinery located in Sicily, Italy has a refining capacity of 14 million tonnes a year (Mtpa). Image courtesy of Lukoil.
Lukoil became the sole owner of ISAB refinery in December 2013. Image courtesy of Rongy Benjamin.
The refinery produced 4.79 million tonnes of diesel and 2.46 million tonnes of petrol in 2019. Image courtesy of Lukoil.

The ISAB refinery located in Sicily, Italy has a refining capacity of 14 million tonnes a year (Mtpa). It is owned and operated by ISAB, which is currently a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lukoil.

The total petroleum products output of the refinery stood at 9.769 million tonnes (Mt) in 2019, with diesel and petrol accounting for 4.79Mt and 2.46Mt respectively. The refinery has a light product yield of 74.7%, a refining depth of 90.1%, and a Nelson index of 10.6.

Lukoil bought a 49% stake in ISAB, which was previously a joint venture of ENI and the ERG Group, in December 2008. It picked up an additional 11% interest to increase its stake to 60% in 2011. Further, Lukoil increased its stake in the refinery facility to 80% in September 2012 and became the sole owner of the refinery by acquiring the remaining 20% stake in December 2013.

Lukoil’s Sicilian refinery is currently undergoing a revamp to enable the production of ultralow-sulphur fuel.

Location and refinery details

The ISAB refinery is located at Priolo Gargallo in the southeast of Sicily, Italy. It comprises two refinery complexes, namely North and South. The North refinery, formerly known as the Agip refinery, started operations in 1964. The South refinery, earlier known as the Industry of Sicilian Asphalt and Bitumen (ISAB) refinery, commenced operations in 1975.

Following the acquisition of the North refinery by the ERG Group, the North refinery and South refinery were merged into ERG Raffinerie Mediterranee in 2002. The North and South refineries are integrated and connected by a system of pipelines.

The refinery receives crude oil mainly from the Black Sea region, north and west Africa, and the Persian Gulf. The various products produced by the refinery include petrol, naphtha, diesel fuel, jet fuel, vacuum gasoil and fuel oil.

Refinery process details

The processing facilities are spread across the North and South refinery sites of ISAB complex.

The various processing facilities in ISAB include a 320,000 barrels per day (bpd) crude distillation facility, a 120,800bpd vacuum distillation facility, a 38,000bpd catalytic cracking facility, a 41,000bpd catalytic reforming facility, a 90,000bpd catalytic hydrocracking facility, a 226,900bpd catalytic hydrotreating facility, and a 33,200bpd demercaptanisation facility.

The production capacity of the refinery’s alkylation facility is 5,000bpd, while that of the isomerisation facility is 18,000bpd. The refinery also produces up to 16.5 million cubic feet a day (Mcfd) of hydrogen, 640t a day of sulphur. and 33,000bpd of bitumen.

IGCC Plant

The integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) facility at the refinery complex comprises a tar gasification plant as well as a cogeneration plant. The power plant runs on syngas or natural gas and is designed for a rated output of 549MW. The synthesis gas (syngas) is produced from the gasification of asphalt produced by the refinery.

The gasification plant has a capacity to process about one million tonnes a year of tar generated by the refinery plants. Separately, syngas has also been used for the production of hydrogen since June 2010.

Originally owned by ISAB Energy, the IGCC commenced electricity production in 2000. ISAB Energy was acquired by Lukoil in July 2014.

Contracts awarded

DuPont Clean Technologies was awarded a contract to revamp the existing trickle bed diesel hydrotreater in the refinery with the IsoTherming® hydroprocessing technology in February 2021. The revamped diesel hydrotreater, expected to start operations in 2024, will boost the capacity to produce ultralow-sulphur fuel to 31,000bpd, as well as extend the catalyst cycle length.

Cook Compression, a part of Dover Precision Components, bagged a multi-year contract from ISAB to provide technical support, reconditioning, and upgrades for reciprocating compressor valves and actuators in November 2019. The scope of the contract includes providing service for 27 reciprocating compressors in the ISAB South and North refinery sites.