Hemmingstedt. Around 180 guests from the worlds of politics, business and management, along with regional and national associations and institutions, came to Stadttheater Heide today for the refinery talk. Moderator Antonia Wellmann welcomed the many guests and guided them through the exciting evening. First, the managing director of the refinery, Jürgen Wollschläger, looked back over past year. 2018 was a year shaped by volatile market developments. ‘This volatility is not a surprise to us, but it’s made the past year particularly exciting,’ reports Jürgen Wollschläger. In terms of margins, for example, the annual low in October was followed by the annual high in November. Turnover came to €2.3 billion in the past year. With 4.2 million tonnes of processed crude oil, 2018 was a successful year.
The company invested €27.5 million in modernising and maintaining its production facilities in 2018. These had availability of 96 per cent and capacity utilisation of 83 per cent during the last year. ‘With our investment and positive teamwork, we laid the foundations in 2018 for the years ahead. For example, we not only invested in maintaining our existing facilities, but also expanded upon future-oriented projects,’ Jürgen Wollschläger explained. During the coming months, the shipping industry, and with it the oil refineries, will experience major changes. From 1 January 2020, shipping will have to comply with new, significantly lower limits for sulphur emissions, as stipulated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulation. One way to achieve this is to use fuels with a maximum sulphur content of 0.5 per cent instead of 3.5 per cent, as was previously the case. Raffinerie Heide is already able to meet this new specification. ‘Furthermore, we benefit in particular from our focus on middle distillates and the high complexity of our refinery. This will enable us to continue to serve the market optimally in the future,’ Jürgen Wollschläger highlighted.
Raffinerie Heide took another significant step towards a ‘green future’ in 2018 by commencing research on the KEROSyN100 project funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The aim of the project is to develop and produce environmentally friendly, synthetic kerosene using wind energy. Jürgen Wollschläger is sure that synthetic fuels represent the future. Another key component is the project application for the ‘Reallabor Westküste 100’ (west coast 100 real-world laboratory) as part of the ‘Reallabore der Energiewende’ (real-world laboratories for the energy revolution) competition for ideas by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. At the heart of the ‘Reallabor Westküste 100’ is the installation and subsequent operation of a 20–25 megawatt electrolysis plant on the grounds of Raffinerie Heide, which can replace a large volume of conventionally produced hydrogen with green hydrogen.
The ‘green future’, and especially the refinery location here in Dithmarschen, was also a central theme of the evening. Under the title of ‘Retten synthetische Kraftstoffe die Energiewende?’ (Will synthetic fuels save the energy revolution?), Professor Klaus-Dieter Borchardt, Deputy Director-General for Energy at the European Commission in Brussels, Thomas Puls, Senior Economist for Transport and Infrastructure at the German Economic Institute, Dirk Burmeister, chairman of the Region Heide development agency, and Jürgen Wollschläger discussed the challenges of the Paris Agreement for mobility in Germany and also for the country’s oil refineries. The panel discussion addressed various questions: Will mobility become a luxury? Are ‘area states’, such as Schleswig-Holstein, at risk of being the losers of the energy revolution? What role will be played by synthetic fuels? And what role will be played by oil refineries in the energy revolution? These and other questions were discussed in light of economic, political and social challenges and opportunities.