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SK Energy finishes a desulfurizing plant at last

Feb 03,2020
SK Energy, Korea’s leading oil refinery and gas station operator, said Sunday it completed construction of a new desulfurization facility, with commercial operations to start in March.

The completion came three months ahead of schedule. SK broke ground on the site in Ulsan in November 2017. Since then, SK Energy spent 1 trillion won ($837 million) on building the vacuum residue desulfurization facility, which has a capacity of 40,000 barrels of low-sulfur fuel oil a day, to cope with stringent regulations on ship fuel.

For the next two months, the new facility will undergo test operations. SK Energy expects an additional profit of between 200 billion won and 300 billion won annually as a result.

International Maritime Organization regulations on sulfur content in marine fuel were put into effect this year, limiting the sulfur cap for marine fuel to 0.5 percent from the former 3.5 percent.

To comply, vessel operators need to either install exhaust gas cleaning systems, called scrubbers, or use clean fuel, such as low-sulfur fuel oil, marine gas oil or liquefied natural gas.

With hopes to benefit from the new sulfur cap, Korean oil refiners have been beefing up their desulfurization and upgrading facilities to produce more low-sulfur petroleum products.

BY YONHAP, SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]