Refining the deal

Basell is to buy the Shell oil refinery at the Berre l’Etang petrochemical complex in France for $700m.

Polyolefins giant Basell has made an offer to buy the Shell oil refinery and associated infrastructure and businesses at the Berre l’Etang petrochemical complex in France for $700m.

Subject to staff council consultation, review and approval from regulatory authorities and agreement on the sale and purchase documents, the transaction is expected to close early 2008.

With world-scale polypropylene and polyethylene plants, a steam cracker and butadiene extraction unit at the same site and a polyethylene plant at nearby Fos sur Mer, Basell is currently the largest customer of the Shell refinery. The refinery’s products include naphtha, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), fuels for a variety of applications, bitumen and heating oil.

‘The refinery is of strategic importance to Basell because it provides a further backward integration of our activities at the Berre site, one of our core European sites,’ said Volker Trautz, CEO of Basell. ‘Its products play an important role in support of our Polyolefins Europe business and through the acquisition we will be able to operate more effectively.’

In 2006, to strengthen its ethylene and propylene integration, Basell acquired the remaining 50 per cent interest in the steam cracker at the same petrochemical complex at Berre from Shell, its former partner in the cracker joint venture.

If the refinery transaction is completed, the 1,500 Shell employees at the site will transfer to Basell.