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50 years of the Harwich refinery

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

On 23 June, exactly 50 years ago Sir Julian Risdale, the then Member of Parliament for Harwich, officially opened the local refinery for Carless, Capel and Leonard, more recently known as Petrochem Carless. Today the manufacturing facility is part of the HCS Group.

The production of speciality hydrocarbons started in 1964 with approximately 20 employees at the facility. In the first year of operation, the plant processed 14 000 t of raw materials in a single batch distillation plant. Today, over 500 000 tpy is processing in Harwich, including gas condensate and light crude from the North Sea. Other feedstocks are imported from all over the world for processing alongside these to create a range of speciality products for industry.

The refinery occupies a 25 hectare site, with a storage capacity of 150 000 t in 175 tanks.


Duncan Stonehouse, Executive VP of Global Operations said, ‘we have become firmly rooted in Harwich and the region over the past 50 years. With its proximity to the sea, the location provides a major advantage for us because we can be easily reached and can deliver our products by ship to customers all over the world, as well as being ideally located to the major hydrocarbon ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam.’

Trevor Rogers, Refinery Manager said, ‘the success of our plant in Harwich is down to our employees, who have a wealth of expertise and experience, matched by their personal commitment. We have established ourselves in a highly competitive market environment and, in the hydrocarbon based speciality sector, we’re among the absolute top players in Europe.’

Dr Uwe Nickel, CEO, HCS Group said ‘the plant in Harwich is an important pillar for the Group’s success in both the British market and worldwide. It is not just the years of experience that count, the continuous innovation at the site also plays a major role.’

Adapted from press release by Claira Lloyd

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