BELGRADE, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Serbian oil company NIS, majority owned by Russia’s Gazprom Neft, started construction on Monday of a 300 million euro ($352 million) deep conversion complex at its main refinery, which it says will boost efficiency and reduce pollution.
The project at the Pancevo refinery is part of the second phase of a Gazprom Neft programme to modernise NIS’s refining capacity, which has been ongoing since 2009 and is expected to be completed in 2019.
With a capacity of 2,000 tonnes per day, the new facility will enable the refinery’s conversion rate, a key indicator of its operational efficiency, to reach 99.2 percent, NIS said in a statement. The volume of high-quality diesel fuel produced will increase by more than 38 percent, it said.
As part of the project, NIS will also start production of petroleum coke which is currently not produced in Serbia.
Once the complex becomes operational, the refinery will cease the production of high-sulphur fuel oil, which is heavily pollutant.
One of the biggest contributors to Serbia’s budget, NIS operates two refineries and produces 1.7 million tonnes of oil and gas equivalent per year. Gazprom Neft owns 56.15 percent of NIS while the Serbian government owns 29.88 percent and small shareholders own the remainder. ($1 = 0.8514 euros) (Reporting by Maja Zuvela in Sarajevo; Editing by Susan Fenton)