July 12, 2008

Pounds 2bn Refinery on Course for 2013 Operations ; in Association With RBS

PLANS to build a new pounds 2bn oil refinery on Teesside are well on course.

Howard Simons, technical director of Sonhoe Energy UK, gave an update on his company's project - the biggest of its kind in Europe for more than a decade - when he addressed about 200 North East business leaders at Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium.

The plant is expected to create hundreds of construction jobs over three to four years, with the prospect of up to 2,000 direct hire and outsourced jobs at the plant and huge spin-off benefits to the region's supply chain.

Mr Simons said the plant is on track to be operational by 2013/ 14.

He said: "Research carried out by Dr Alex Kemp, professor of petroleum economics at Aberdeen University, tells us there could be 30 billion barrels of heavy crude oil left in the North Sea, enough for another 25 years.

"This plant will be able to process 200,000 barrels a day of that oil into high quality, low-sulphur diesel, petrochemical feedstock, naphtha and kerosene. It will also be one of the largest hydrogen producing plants in Europe. This is a major heavy oil plant but also a very clean plant."

Nick Brown MP, Minister for the North East, is backing the project. He said recently: "I am an enthusiastic supporter of Sonhoe's work in this area, and in my role as Regional Minister I am doing all that I properly can to help the project reach fruition."

George Rafferty, chief executive of event organiser NOF Energy, said the refinery offered huge potential benefits for other companies in the area and had generated massive interest.

(c) 2008 The Journal - Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.