Trafigura consortium to acquire Esso’s Fos-sur-Mer Refinery
Photo courtesy of Trafigura

Trafigura consortium to acquire Esso’s Fos-sur-Mer Refinery

Rhône Energies, a consortium formed by Entara LLC and Trafigura Pte Ltd, is currently in exclusive negotiations to acquire the Fos-sur-Mer refinery from Esso.

The Fos-sur-Mer refinery is located in the town of Fos-sur-Mer, which is situated on the Mediterranean coast in the south of France, near the city of Marseille in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. This strategic location allows for direct access to maritime shipping routes, making it a key asset in the region’s energy infrastructure.

The Fos-sur-Mer refinery, which began operations in 1965, has a processing capacity of approximately 140,000 barrels per day. A worker’s strike has crippled refinery operations since September 2023. The strike action was initiated over disputes regarding pay and bonuses. The refinery has been gradually shutting down as a result, impacting its operations significantly.

The acquisition also includes the Toulouse and Villette de Vienne terminals in southern France. Both locations serve as strategic points in the logistics and distribution network of petroleum products in France.

Rhône Energies intends to invest in the sustainability of the site to reduce its carbon intensity footprint while also investing in growth projects enabling further co-processing of biogenic feedstocks to produce renewable fuels. The company also said it aims to further improve margin capture, crude flexibility, process utilisation and to maximise high value products, while investing in personnel and process safety.

Rhône Energies combines Entara’s expertise in refinery operations with Trafigura’s global prowess in energy and commodities trading. Entara, born from the leadership of former Crossbridge Energy executives, will manage the operations, maintenance, and environmental performance of the Fos-sur-Mer site. Trafigura, known for trading over 5.5 million barrels of oil and petroleum products daily, will leverage its extensive network to enhance the refinery’s operational efficiency and market reach.

Nicholas Myerson, CEO of Entara, expressed enthusiasm about assuming stewardship of the refinery, emphasising the commitment to operational excellence and sustainable practices. Ben Luckock, Trafigura’s global head of Oil, highlighted the strategic location of the refinery on France’s Mediterranean coast and its role in enhancing regional energy security.

The deal promises job security for the existing workforce of approximately 310 employees, with plans to maintain competitive compensation and professional development opportunities. Additionally, Trafigura will enter into a decade-long exclusive agreement for crude oil supply and product offtake to ensure stable operations and supply chain efficiency.

The proposed acquisition is subject to a formal information and consultation procedure with employee representative bodies. Its completion is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected by the end of 2024. The financial terms of the proposed transaction are confidential.