Chevron Cape Town Refinery


On 01 June 2012 the South African Department of Energy (DoE) released the Amendment of Regulations Regarding Petroleum Products Specifications and Standards in R431, GN35410 to the Petroleum Products Act of 1977.   These amended regulations provide for a change in the specification requirements for petroleum products, establishing ‘clean fuels’ in South Africa, in line with the Euro V fuel standard. The objective of the amended regulations is to reduce the level of hazardous substances in petroleum products.

The new required specifications must be implemented by all petroleum product manufacturers in South Africa by 01 July 2017.  The regulations specify the maximum concentrations of aromatics, benzene and sulphur in petrol and the maximum concentration of sulphur permitted for diesel.  

Petrol (Gasoline) specifications affected are:
(a) the maximum permitted content of aromatics is 35% v/v;
(b) the maximum permitted benzene content is 1% v/v;
(c) the maximum permitted sulphur content is 10 mg/kg; and

Diesel specifications affected are:
(a) the maximum permitted sulphur content is 10 mg/kg

In order to meet the amended regulations, the Chevron Cape Town Refinery intends to undertake the Clean Fuels II Compliance Project. The Clean Fuels II Compliance Project will comprise the installation of new plant/equipment within the existing Chevron Cape Town Refinery site and the decommissioning and/or demolition of some existing equipment which would no longer be required.

Purpose of the Background Information Document (BID)
The aim of this document is to provide information on the scope of work for the proposed upgrade of the Chevron Cape Town Refinery in order to meet the new required specifications for petroleum products.  This document also serves to provide information on the associated public participation and stakeholder engagement processes required to be undertaken.

Before the proposed project may proceed, an environmental impact assessment process is required in terms of the National Environmental Management Amendment Act (NEMA) (Act 62 of 2008). The Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEA&DP) is the competent authority for the proposed project.

ERM Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd has been appointed as the Independent Environmental Assessment Practitioners (EAP) to undertake the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process as discussed below.

Proposed Project

The following process changes would enable Cape Town Refinery to produce products adhering to the ‘clean fuels’ specifications:

  1. Construction of new Diesel and Gasoline Hydrotreaters to produce products with lower sulphur content (ie less than 10 mg/kg).
  2. Construction of a new Hydrogen plant (H2 Plant) to produce high purity hydrogen gas to be used in the Diesel and Gasoline Hydrotreaters.
  3. Construction of a new Splitter and Column plus modifications to the existing Isom Plant to produce petrol with a lower benzene content (less than 1%) with the correct octane (RON) content.
  4. Modification to existing sulphur handling equipment to process the additional sulphur recovered from the diesel and gasoline production.
  5. Modifications to existing utilities required to enable operation of the new units and to allow for final product specification optimization.
  6. Decommissioning of existing redundant equipment (ie Existing Hydrotreaters and MINALK).


Hydrotreater: A hydrodesulphurization (HDS) unit which uses a catalytic process to remove sulphur (S) from refined petroleum products.

Splitter and Column:

Octane (RON) content: The octane content or rating is a standard measure of the performance of fuel. The higher the octane content, the more compression the fuel can withstand before igniting giving higher performance. The most common type of octane rating is the Research Octane Number (RON), which is determined by running the fuel in a test engine with a variable compression ratio under controlled conditions and comparing these results with those for mixtures of iso-octane and n-heptane.

Isom Plant: An isomerization plant converts linear molecules to higher-octane branched molecules for blending into petroleum products.

MINALK: Minalk Merox (mercaptan oxidation) is a proprietary catalytic chemical process used in oil refineries to remove mercaptans from petroleum products.

Scoping and EIA Process
A Basic Assessment process is required for the upgrade of the Chevron Cape Town Refinery.  However, this process has been upgraded to a full Scoping/EIA process given the complexity of the project and to allow for sufficient time for public participation associated with the EIA process.  In addition to requiring authorisation under NEMA, the upgrade of the Chevron Cape Town Refinery will also require an updated Air Emissions Licence.


The requirement for environmental authorisation through submission of an impact assessment is governed by the National Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations under the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) (Act No. 107 of 1998), as amended.  The proposed approach to the EIA process for the proposed project is based on the current Regulations contained in Government Notices R543, R544, R545 and R546, promulgated on 2 August 2010.

The activities ‘triggered’ are contained in the listed activities in R544.  The listed activities are as follows:

The decommissioning of existing facilities or infrastructure, for activities, where the facility or the land on which it is located is contaminated

The expansion of or changes to existing facilities for any process or activity where
such expansion or changes to will result in the need for a permit or license in terms of national or provincial legislation governing the release of emissions or pollution, excluding where the facility, process or activity is included in the list of waste management activities published in terms of section 19 of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008 (Act No. 59 of 2008) in which case that Act will apply.

The expansion of facilities for the storage, or storage and handling, of a dangerous good, where the capacity of such storage facility will be expanded by 80 cubic metres or more.

The competent authority, the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEA&DP), has agreed to the approach of upgrading the Basic Assessment process, required in terms of the above, to a Scoping/EIA process in terms of Section 20(3) of GN R543.

Figure 3: Process Flow Diagram

Public participation Processes

Public participation and stakeholder engagement processes will be conducted and will include the placement of adverts in local / regional newspapers, placement of site notices and distribution of BIDs.

Public meetings are proposed in order to provide I&APs and members of the public an opportunity to be involved in the process and if necessary, focus group meetings may be used to facilitate information transfer for specifically identified stakeholders. These meetings will be facilitated by ERM in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa. 

Hard and soft copy draft and final reports will be made available to the public and specific stakeholders at publically accessible places; distributed to commenting authorities such as Department of Water Affairs (DWA), City of Cape Town, the National Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA, Pollution and Waste Management Departments, Heritage Western Cape and submitted to DEA&DP as the competent authority. 

An initial public meeting will be held on 24 April 2014 at the Theo Marais Sports Complex.

Register and Comment

Should you wish to register as an I&AP, provide comment on the proposed project, raise queries, or request further information please contact Tougheeda Aspeling of ERM:

Tel: 021 681 5400
Fax: 021 686 0736
Postnet Suite 90, Private Bag X12, Tokai