50 years of Antwerp platform

TPA celebrated its 50th anniversary on November 28 with Jacques Beuckelaers, General Manager of the Antwerp complex, Evy Schools, General Manager of the polymer plant, and Vincent Stoquart, Senior Vice President, Polymers on hand for the big event. It was a chance for TPA employees to celebrate half a century of achievements and toast the plant's future. 


Inaugurated in 1951, the Antwerp site was the linchpin of Petrofina’s facilities. Initially, it housed a large refinery, built in partnership with BP. The first chemicals units, dedicated to the production of plastics, were built alongside the refinery in the 1950s.

Thirty years later, thanks to the substantial investments made during the period, Antwerp had become one of the biggest industrial platforms operated by Petrofina. In addition to the refinery, the site housed a petrochemicals complex of global importance. And this importance was reinforced in 1988, when the Group purchased (for 60 million dollars) the 50% stake that its partner BP had held in the Antwerp refinery since it was first commissioned. “The move enabled us to assert strong ambitions in the refining and petrochemicals sector”, explains François Cornélis today.

As Europe’s fourth biggest refinery, Antwerp was the focus of a significant share of the Belgian Group’s downstream investments. In the early 1990s, Petrofina launched a highly ambitious project at the site to build a deep conversion unit. “The idea was to equip Antwerp with the facilities required to treat heavy crudes from all sources and of every type, convert them into light products and extract sulphur from the products. Our ambition was to become Europe’s most efficient converter of hydrocarbons to compensate for weakness in the upstream sector”, continues François Cornélis.



Located in the city’s port district, the Antwerp facility has three production sites. Together, they make up an integrated complex dedicated to refining (338,000 barrels a day) and petrochemicals (1.1 million tons a year of ethylene). The complex produces various petroleum products, such as gasoline, LPG, diesel, jet fuel and heavy fuel oil. It also manufactures base chemicals — olefins, C4 fractions and aromatic hydrocarbons — some of which are processed into high-density polyethylene, a polymer. Its products are used in a number of consumer and industrial applications, such as packaging and automotive components. The Antwerp complex employs a workforce of 1,700.