BRUSSELS, July 2- ExxonMobil is to invest one billion dollars in an existing refinery in Antwerp, Belgium it said on Wednesday, despite adverse market conditions and falling demand for energy in Europe.
The US energy giant said it intends to instal a new unit at the site which will convert heavy crude into diesel and marine fuel, a market it believes will grow in the long term.
Refineries are a key part of the world’s oil production process, responsible for converting raw petrol into gasoline, diesel and aviation fuel for transportation industries.
The European refinery sector has been suffering under the weight of extremely low margins in recent years brought on by cheaper alternatives in the US and Asia-Pacific. Major European refinery plants have closed with the loss of thousands of jobs.
But the company said it was “seizing an opportunity” and the investment brought its total investment in the Antwerp facility to $2.0 billion (1.46 billion euros) in the past decade.
ExxonMobil said it believed demand for diesel fuel in Europe would remain high in coming decades for trucking and other commercial transportation.
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The facility in Antwerp, one of Europe’s busiest ports, has a current capacity of 320,000 barrels per day and has been in operation since 1953.