Shell gives green light for Rotterdam refinery upgrade

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil major Shell will go ahead with the construction of a new unit at its Pernis refinery in Rotterdam, Europe's largest, that is set to start operating by the end of 2018, the company said on Tuesday.

The new Solvent Deasphalter (SDA) unit will allow the refinery to turn more of its oil into lighter, high-grade products that are more valuable and cleaner.

The upgrade will not alter the refinery's overall processing capacity of 404,000 barrels per day, but some existing units will need modifying to work with the SDA, Shell said.

Shell's upgrade comes weeks after rival ExxonMobil [EXXO.UL] announced a $1 billion investment to expand hydrocracker operations at its own Rotterdam refinery, giving it the capacity to make more high-performance lubricating oils and greases.

(Reporting by Karolin Schaps, editing by Louise Heavens)

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