Shell to produce Group III base oils at Wesseling site in Germany
Photo courtesy of Shell

Shell to produce Group III base oils at Wesseling site in Germany

Shell Deutschland GmbH has made a final investment decision to convert the hydrocracker of the Wesseling site at the Energy and Chemicals Park Rheinland into a unit to produce Group III base oils, which are used to make high-quality lubricants including engine oils and transmission fluids.

A hydrocracker converts heavy, low-quality hydrocarbons into lighter, high-quality products, such as fuels (gasoline, jet fuel, diesel), chemicals feedstocks, and base oil feedstocks. This is achieved through a high-pressure, high temperature reaction between the hydrocarbons and hydrogen, in the presence of a catalyst.

Shell Energy and Chemicals Park Rheinland is a large, integrated downstream production complex with historical significance for Shell, strategically located near the crucial port infrastructure and logistics access of the River Rhine. Both sites are strategically important for Shell’s operations in Germany and Europe. Located near Cologne, a major urban center, it comprises two sites: Wesseling and Godorf. It currently has capacity to process more than 17 million tonnes of crude oil a year, of which 7.5 million tonnes are processed at the Wesseling site.

Crude oil processing will end at the Wesseling site by 2025 but will continue at the Godorf site. Despite ceasing crude oil processing at the Wesseling site, fuel supplies for the German market are expected to remain stable and secure.

Shell has already driven forward the transformation of the Energy and Chemicals Park Rheinland with investments in a 10-megawatt electrolyser to produce renewable hydrogen and a biomethane liquefaction plant.

Electrifying the base oil facility and halting crude oil refining at Wesseling is expected to cut Shellโ€™s direct and indirect carbon emissions by about 620,000 metric tons annually. Shell aims to achieve net-zero emissions across energy operations by 2050.

Huibert Vigeveno, director of Shell’s Downstream and Renewables unit, said: โ€œThe conversion of this European refinery is a major step toward better serving our expanding lubricant customer base with premium base oils. This investment aligns with Shellโ€™s drive to create greater value with fewer emissions.โ€

The new base oil facility should launch operations in the second half of this decade. It will have an annual capacity around 300,000 metric tons, meeting about 9% of current European Union demand and 40% of German demand for lubricating base oils.