History of Refineries

Rijeka Oil Refinery

The Rijeka Oil Refinery started its operation in 1883 as the largest oil refining plant on the mainland. With an annual refining capacity of 60 thousand tonnes, it remained the largest for the next ten years or so. It was built in the suburban area called Ponsal (today Mlaka), simultaneously with the construction of the Petroleum Harbour. It met one third of the oil products demand of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Unlike typical refineries at that time that operated as a manufactury with 10 to 20 workers, without the supervision of an expert, Rijeka started its production with 300 employees and a technical director who was a highly qualified chemist. Thus it became the first European industrial oil refining plant.

When the city of Rijeka became a part of the territory of the Kingdom of Italy at the end of the First World War, the Refinery acquired a core role in the state oil programme. In 1922 it was known as Raffineria di Olli Minerali S.A., and in 1926 it became the first industrial facility of the Agip Company.
Thus Rijeka became the “birthplace” of the oil industries of two European Union members, first Hungary, and then Italy.

At the beginning of the Second World War, its capacity was 120 thousand tonnes. After the war, as a part of the territory of Yugoslavia, first destroyed and then reconstructed, the Refinery became the most important oil processing plant in the country.

In 1965, owing to a new process unit at Urinj, it had a refining capacity of 8 million tonnes. At that time, the Mlaka plant was specialised in the production of lubricants and the Urinj plant in the production of fuels. The Refinery had a leading position on the market and in regard to technology in Yugoslavia. During the 1980s, in Rijeka, 250 types of oil products were produced and in 1984 the first unleaded petrol in the former state was produced.
The Refinery played an important role in the creation of the Republic of Croatia, as an oil product supplier for Croatia in the 1990s during the Homeland War. At the ceremony organized on February 12, 2011 in Rijeka Refinery, the completion of the investment project of three facilities within Hydrocracking complex: Mild hidrocracking, Hydrogen unit and Desulphurization plant (Claus) as well as numerous supporting facilities and installations were completed.

Sisak Oil Refinery

Sisak Oil Refinery developed from a Shell storage facility built in 1923 on the spot where the Kupa River joins the Sava River. In 1927, at the same location, Shell built a boiler distillation with a daily refining capacity of 170 tonnes. Feedstock and material were transported by barges along the Sava River and railway tank cars. The refining of domestic oil began in 1940. At the time, 96 thousand tonnes of oil was refined at the refinery and two hundred types of oil products produced.

During the Second World War, the plant was seriously damaged. The production was restored in September 1945 and the pre-war production levels were exceeded as early as 1949.

A new development cycle started with the construction of a modern Combined Process Unit I. It was put into operation in 1956 with a daily capacity of 100 tonnes. Iraqi oil was the dominant feedstock. After the construction of the Stružec-Sisak oil pipeline in 1960, priority was given to oil from oil wells in Slavonia and Moslavina. In 1961, the construction of Combined Process Unit II was initiated. As a result of that, in 1964, the Refinery managed to produce over one million tonnes of oil, becoming the first in the country to do so, and it also initiated production of 98 octane petrol.

Continuous construction of new process units eventually led to a technological peak in the mid 1980s when the refining capacity was 6.7 million tonnes.

During the Homeland War the Refinery was only a few kilometres away from the first line of fire, which unavoidably resulted in the destruction of refinery units. Restoration of the production and new requirements in regard to the quality of products raised a question about a new investment cycle. As a part of refinery system development, in Sisak refinery three plants have been completed: desulphurization plant, the so-called Claus the hydrodesulphurization of FCC gasoline plant and Isomerization plant.


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