March 2022, Vol. 249, No. 3

Special Section: Hydrogen

Essar to Build UK’s First Refinery-Based Hydrogen Furnace

Essar Oil UK, the leading UK-focused downstream energy company, announces plans to install a new $60.8 million (£45 million) furnace at Stanlow that’s capable of using hydrogen as its fuel source, which is a first for the United Kingdom.


This marks another milestone in Essar’s goal to becoming the U.K.’s first low-carbon refinery. It follows the launch of Vertex Hydrogen, a new Essar-led JV, in which the company will invest $1.3 billion (£1 billion) over the next five years to drive down emissions, including the development of new hydrogen production plants at Stanlow, forming a central part of the HyNet Northwest decarbonization cluster.  

The scheme (which is subject to planning approval) comprises the decommissioning of three existing furnaces and their replacement with a single, highly efficient furnace, which includes a chimney of 71 meters.  

The scheme will provide a number of improvements that will lead to benefits for Stanlow and the surrounding area, including lower carbon emissions due to gas-only firing and new burners that emit lower levels of nitrogen oxide and future-proofing to enable the use of sustainable fuel types in the future such as hydrogen, the company said.  

The furnace is currently being fabricated in Thailand. The largest single module is 26.5 meters long, by 18.5 meters tall, by 14.5 meters and the furnace will be delivered on site almost fully constructed.  

The new furnace forms a key part of the company’s strategy to reduce its own carbon emissions. The furnace is unique in that it will have the capability to run entirely off hydrogen, becoming the first of its kind based at a UK refinery. It has an improved energy efficiency of 4% compared to existing furnaces, which will save 16,600 tons of CO2 per year, as well as reducing ongoing maintenance costs.  

Set to be installed in 2022, the furnace will become fully operational next year. From 2026 onwards it will be fueled by hydrogen produced at Stanlow as part of the HyNet Northwest decarbonization cluster. Essar’s Vertex Hydrogen will develop the world’s first and largest blue hydrogen production plant at Stanlow. Hydrogen will be used at the site and will be distributed to industrial businesses in the region to support their transition to low carbon.  

By affecting a significant and rapid transition to hydrogen, we are securing the long-term future of this vitally important national asset whilst also playing a key role in supporting the U.K.’s plans for building the low carbon economy of tomorrow,” said Deepak Maheshwari, chief executive officer at Essar Oil UK. “We would like to thank our community for its ongoing support of our refinery at Stanlow.”  

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