Royal Dutch Shell Plc is aiming to return its Pernis refinery in Rotterdam to full operations by the end of this month, according to a local resident who was briefed on the matter by the company.
The company held a meeting for about 200 local residents late Wednesday, giving a first indication of when Europe’s largest refinery would resume normal operations after a fire in late July halted both crude units. The company said earlier this week that the first supporting units had been brought back online, without elaborating on the resumption of operations.
Shell “aims to get the Pernis refinery back to be fully operational by the end of this month,” Kees van Pelt, the chairman of the plant’s community advisory panel, said late Wednesday after attending the briefing by Jos van Winsen, the plant’s general manager. Shell couldn’t immediately confirm the content of the talk with residents.
The shutdown of the Pernis refinery in Europe’s main oil-trading hub coincided with tighter-than-usual diesel supply in the region where inventories dropped counter-seasonally in July. ICE gasoil futures, the regional diesel benchmark, moved into backwardation following the July 29 fire, a structure that signals near-term lack of supply. The incident prompted increased flows from the U.S.
While a restart would start to ease fuel availability, the shutdown will continue to support distillate fuels in the coming months, Olivier Jakob, managing director at researcher Petromatrix GmbH, said Thursday by phone.
“The fact that Pernis was offline for more than a month will provide some underlying support for distillates in Europe because it has led to a reduction of stock,” Jakob said, referring to the category of fuel that includes gasoil, diesel and jet fuel.
Inventories of diesel and gasoil in independent storage in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp area fell last week to the lowest in almost two months, PJK International data show, while crude inventories rose the most in four months, according to Genscape. The refinery, which can process 404,000 barrels of crude a day, will attempt to restart one of its two crude distillation units on Friday, a person familiar with the matter said this week.
By Fred Pals and Bill Lehane