The Italian energy group Eni and Total, the France-based energy group, have entered into a special license and R&D Cooperation Agreement for Eni Slurry Technology (EST) that will see the two companies work together to tailor Eni’s technology to Total’s requirements. Eni Slurry Technology (EST) is the most recent refining process for converting heavy oil feedstock into lighter components. It has been entirely developed in Italy by Eni R&D and implemented in the Sannazzaro refinery since 2013.
An advanced refining technology
EST is a real breakthrough process developed by Eni aimed at the bottom-of-the-barrel-conversion. It can be considered the most important invention developed by an Italian company in the refining industry, points out Eni.
Refining is generally considered a technologically mature sector, and the most recent major innovations in this field came almost four decades ago and mostly from the USA. But these “older” refining technologies are not suitable for obtaining a satisfactory “deep conversion” of oil: none of them can transform the petroleum feed with yields higher than 70%.
On the contrary, EST can produce high quality products, such as LPG, jet fuel, gasoline, diesel and other light distillates, with yields higher than 95%. Its main benefits include, beside the feed flexibility and the high conversion to premium, environmentally clean products, the fact that it is an environment-friendly technology itself (coke or fuel oil production is reduced or eliminated) and that it represents an excellent option for natural gas valorization.
Italian excellence in R&D for Eni and Total
EST is the result of an intensive research activity carried out by Eni since the early Nineties; much of the experimental work was done in the San Donato laboratories. The key to the success of EST is the knowledge achieved from Eni’s experience as the owner and operator of the first EST industrial plant (the Sannazzaro refinery). EST can be considered as one of the most important examples of the Italian excellence in R&D.
Winning the challenge for the refining industry
“After two years of successful operation of the Sannazzaro refinery’s EST unit, the first of its kind in the world, a new, proven technology is now commercially available to be assessed as an option for upgrading the bottom of the barrel. The technology is the result of 15 years of R&D and commercial demonstrations”, said Giacomo Rispoli, Eni’s Refining & Marketing and Chemicals Executive Vice President, commenting on the deal with Total.
“This R&D cooperation project with Eni allows Total to enhance its know-how and expertise, and to have access to another proven technology for bottom of the barrel conversion”, added Nathalie Brunelle, Senior Vice President Strategy, Development and Research of Total Refining & Chemicals. One of the challenges for refining activities is to keep pace with trends in oil markets, but an all-Italian up-to-date technology can help energy giants win this challenge in a viable, profitable, way.