Refining and Trading
We have interests in 21 refineries worldwide. The sites are integrated with our global Trading presence in our three main hubs of the US Gulf Coast, the Rhine region in Europe, and Singapore. Across our portfolio, Shell can process around 2.8 million barrels of crude oil a day into a wide range of products, including petrochemicals, gasoline, diesel, heating oil, aviation fuel, marine fuel, lubricants, LPG, sulphur and bitumen. Approximately 40% of our refining capacity is in the Americas, with 36% in Europe and Africa and 24% in Asia.
Our refineries feature strong crude flexibility and complexity, which allows us to capture margins by dynamically adjusting our operations to process opportunity crudes and create the most economically attractive mix of products for the market. We are also investing in targeted projects at our refineries in the US Gulf Coast, the Rhine region of Europe and Singapore to further enhance our competitive edge. In 2018, we commissioned a new solvent deasphalter at our Pernis refinery, enabling the site to process a larger proportion of its oil intake into cleaner, higher-value transport fuels.
Refining plays a key role powering Shell’s global, customer-focused Downstream value chain. The flexibility, scale and geographic spread of our refining portfolio supports Shell’s Trading and Supply business to competitively supply our Marketing businesses and external customers. Six of our refineries are deeply integrated with Shell’s stand-alone chemical manufacturing sites and five refineries produce petrochemicals. This integration allows us to optimise how we use our molecules, an example demonstrated by our Norco and Deer Park refineries on the US Gulf Coast, which produce high-value oil products and provide secure, advantaged feedstocks for the nearby Shell-operated Geismar chemicals manufacturing plant.
Improvements in efficiency and operational reliability are contributing to increased profitability as well as reductions in CO2 emissions. We are also deploying advanced digital technologies across our refineries to help keep our equipment running safely and efficiently for longer. For example, we created a digital early-warning system at our Pernis refinery that uses predictive analytics and machine learning algorithms to monitor the status of valves in real time. Our employees use this information to proactively repair valves that are not working as intended, which helps mitigate unplanned downtime and avoid costly, larger maintenance work. The average availability of our refineries, a measure of their operational performance, was 91% in 2018. We undertook numerous continuous improvement projects, for example, we successfully extended the run time of our fluid catalytic cracking unit at our Convent refinery to capitalise on attractive market conditions.
Trading and supply
Shell Trading and Supply is one of the largest energy trading operations in the world. This global organisation combines our network of trading companies, industry-leading shipping and maritime capabilities, and an integrated network of supply and distribution activities to act as the central nervous system for Royal Dutch Shell.
Through our main trading offices in London, Houston, Singapore, Dubai and Rotterdam, we trade crude oil, natural gas, LNG, electricity, refined products, chemical feedstocks and environmental products. We have the experience and international scope to capitalise on trading opportunities inherent in Shell’s asset and market positions around the world to deliver sustained and growing cash returns.
Operating in around 30 countries, with more than 140 Shell and joint venture terminals, we believe our supply and distribution infrastructure is well positioned to make deliveries around the world. This includes supplying feedstocks for our refineries and chemical plants and finished products such as gasoline, diesel and aviation fuel to our Marketing businesses and customers.
Our shipping and maritime business has a high level of expertise and decades of experience. It is responsible for ensuring that all of our global maritime activities are safely managed, including a fleet of around 40 LNG carriers and 10 oil tankers. In addition, we have more than 240 oil and LNG vessels on time charter. There are around 2,000 vessels associated with Shell on the water on any given day, including the ships, barges, drilling rigs, supply boats, FPSOs, floating storage and regasification units, single buoy moorings, and the related operations that take place in ports and terminals.
Our trading capability, deep market knowledge, global portfolio and end-to-end integration within Shell effectively creates opportunities to deliver value for our customers and for Shell across our Upstream, Downstream and Integrated Gas businesses.