TOTAL has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Portuguese reprocessing company Ecoslops to build a maritime oil waste recycling plant in La Mède, near Marseille, France.
Ships accumulate hydrocarbon-containing oil residues – known as “slops” – at the bottom of their tanks. International regulations forbid the discharge of slops into the sea, and they must instead be discharged in ports. In most cases slops are incinerated, however, Ecoslops says that its micro-refinery technology can upgrade the waste into fuels and light bitumen.
Ecoslops’ process involves separation of the hydrocarbons, water and sediments first by heating the residues, which are then decanted and centrifuged. The hydrocarbons are sent to a vacuum distillation column then heated to 400°C, which causes most of the hydrocarbons to vaporise. At the end of the process, several types of fuel are produced.
Ecoslops said the construction of such the new processing unit will cater for the growing maritime transport’s need to sustainably upgrade its waste. The company already have a micro-refinery at the Port of Sinès, Portugal, which has been operating since June 2015.The processing unit is proposed as part of the La Mède transformation project. In 2015, Total decided to invest in its first biorefinery at La Mède. The refinery will have a manufacturing capacity of 500,000 t/y of biodiesel from used oils and renewable feedstocks, once complete.
Vincent Favier, CEO of Ecoslops, said: “The success of our first unit in Portugal established Ecoslops as a technology leader. Many other conversations are in progress in order to equip large ports. The large scale and significant traffic of the Port of Marseille convinced us that it was the right location for the settlement of our second unit. The viability of our project, as well as the findings of our shared research with Total, backed the common interest in setting up our microrefinery in the La Mède location.”
Both companies will now conduct a detailed feasibility study and aim to reach a final investment decision in 2017.
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