Energy driving the Humber

The Humber Refinery is one of the most complex refineries operated in Europe and its vast range of products includes not only fuel – it produces some 14 million litres a day, some of which is sold at our 330 JET petrol stations – but raw materials that are transformed into everything from plastics to toiletries. Some 20 per cent of all UK petroleum products come from the facility.

The contribution goes much further than the local economy. Since 2000, Phillips 66, with the Humber Refinery as its economic engine, has paid more than £550 million in tax to the Treasury, and collects over £4 billion in duty and VAT annually. The combined economic contribution of Humber Refinery and other local industries means that North Lincolnshire is the only council area in the country to pay more to central government than it receives.

Lord Haskins, chair of Humber Local Enterprise Partnership, is certain about the Humber Refinery’s value to the region. “The growth of the ‘energy estuary’ has been one of the most positive regional developments in the UK, with the Humber Refinery a longstanding anchor around which other investments continue to emerge,” he says.

“Humberside rightly has a strong reputation as a major contributor to the future of energy in this country.”

The Humber Refinery is a longstanding anchor around which other investments continue to emerge

As well as keeping the UK moving today, Phillips 66 is keen to capture opportunities in the low-carbon economy of tomorrow. Working with the Department for Transport and the Environment Agency, we have successfully trialled making high-performing, advanced biofuels from waste in the refinery’s process units. However, and this may seem a paradox, one the most exciting opportunities lies in the electric vehicle revolution.

One of the products produced by the complex is high-grade petroleum coke, a carbon-rich residue that remains when other, lighter materials are refined from crude oil. Petroleum coke from the Humber complex already has a vital role in supporting advanced manufacturing in the steel recycling and aluminium smelting industries.

Now Phillips 66 Humber personnel, together with their R&D staff from the United States and battery makers in China, have developed unique coke formulations suitable for use in smartphone and electric vehicle batteries.

Phillips 66 is already exporting graphite coke for battery production to countries such as China, but UK-based battery and electric vehicle production would allow more significant economic benefits and value to remain in the UK. We are keen to work with the government, Innovate UK and other businesses to help establish a UK-based supply chain for electric vehicles, starting with precursors such as petroleum coke and finishing with complete batteries and, ideally, complete vehicles.

The refinery has more than 50 production units and over 1,000 miles of pipes. It is kept humming by the vital contribution of our 1,100 workers and we are investing to make sure they have the skills for the future. As well as partnerships with local colleges, there is a four-year apprenticeship scheme.

The refinery is proud to employ double the national average of female engineers and, under the new gender pay reporting, our UK organisation reported no discernible hourly pay gap between men and women as of April 5, 2017.

Zoe Sparling, a graduate of the refinery apprenticeship programme, is one of the next generation of workers playing a part in the energy transition. She says: “When I joined the company, I felt confident I was working somewhere with a clear plan for the future. We want to continue to play a leading role in energy and transport for the long term – and I’m excited to be involved in that.”

Darren Cunningham, lead executive UK  and general manager of the Humber Refinery, adds: “We are excited about our future and are lucky to have a fantastic team here at the refinery, with exceptional skills and capabilities. The refinery will continue to supply the products needed today and long into the future.

“From our quiet position on the estuary, we at Phillips 66 Humber Refinery are committed to continuing our role as a major player, providing energy and improving the lives of the public, customers and communities we serve.”

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