La Mède: A Facility Focused on the Energies of Tomorrow

Location: Châteauneuf-les-Martigues, France
Operations: HVO biodiesel, biojet, Avgas and AdBlue production, logistics and storage hub, training center offering real facilities, solar farm
Capacity: 500,000 metric tons per year of HVO biodiesel

Start of production: July 2019

1st
world-class biorefinery in France
non
Raffinerie La Mède Raffinerie La Mède

In 2015, Total announced plans to transform its La Mède refinery into a unique facility in France, dedicated to promising growth energies for the Group and the region.

The facility notably hosts France’s first world-class biorefinery. It will enable us to meet the growing demand for biofuels.

La Mède, One of Europe's largest biorefineries

Identified by the International Energy Agency (IEA) as a way of mitigating global warming, biofuels mesh perfectly with our strategy. We have been producing biofuels for more than 20 years and are today the leading distributer in Europe.

Our La Mède biorefinery, the first world-class facility of its type in France and one of the largest in Europe, aims to meet the growing demand for biofuels. 

Operational as from 2019, it has a capacity of 500,000 tonnes of HVO-type1 biodiesel per year. The HVO technology that we have selected is French, developed by IFP Énergies nouvelles and marketed by its affiliate Axens. It produces a sustainable and high-quality biofuel, similar in nature to fossil fuels and therefore has no adverse effect on engines.

The biorefinery was designed to produce biofuels from various types of oils, including vegetable oils certified sustainable according to E.U. criteria as well as used oils, residual oils and animal fats. La Mède’s feedstock will be made up of 60% to 70% crude vegetable oils (rapeseed, sunflower, soybean, oil palm, corn or new plants such as carinata) and 30% to 40% treated waste (animal fats, cooking oil, residues, etc.). Total has pledged to process no more than 300,000 tonnes of palm oil per year — less than 50% of the total volume of raw materials needed — and at least 50,000 tonnes of French-grown rapeseed, creating another market for domestic agriculture.

All the oils processed will be certified sustainable to European Union standards. In addition, as part of its palm oil procurement process, Total is taking an extra step by introducing strengthened control of sustainability and respect for human rights

The La Mède biorefinery project is coupled with a plan for continuous improvement of the facility’s energy efficiency, with the aim of reducing energy consumption by 8% by 2020.

1 Hydrotreated vegetable oil.
Bernard Pinatel

Biofuels are fully renewable and an immediately available solution to cut carbon emissions from ground and air transportation. When produced from sustainable raw materials, as at La Mède, they emit at least 50% less carbon than fossil fuels.

Bernard Pinatel
President, Refining & Chemicals

A forward-looking multipurpose facility

The creation of the La Mède biorefinery is part of a global transformation project of the platform that includes five other components:

1. Development of Avgas production

The project includes plans to develop the production of Avgas (a fuel used in civil aviation) thanks to the continued operation of the existing reforming unit. Total is France’s sole producer of Avgas.

The reforming unit will also enable us to continue to supply the local petrochemical industry and provide the necessary hydrogen to the biorefinery. 

2. Creation of a flexible, multimodal storage logistics hub

A new logistics and storage hub for diesel, gasoline, jet fuel and heating oil started operations in April 2017. With a capacity of 1.3 million cubic meters, it contributes to the activity of the Marseille Fos Port.

3. Creation of an AdBlue production plant

An AdBlue production plant with a capacity of 50,000 cubic meters per year has been set up on site. AdBlue is an additive that reduces nitrogen oxide emissions from diesel engines in trucks and passenger vehicles. 

4. Launch of an OLEUM training center 

The facility hosts Total’s second OLEUM training center. Modeled after the center of the same name at our Flanders facility near Dunkirk in northern France, this training center for oil and petrochemicals industries is one of the world’s few such facilities based in a real industrial complex. The center will be able to train more than 2,000 people a year.

The La Mède OLEUM center will also provide a digital demonstration platform to trial Group digital projects under real operating conditions in Total’s industrial environment.

OLEUM: life-size training centers for industries

5. Construction of a high-efficiency solar farm

In late 2017, a solar farm equipped with high-efficiency cells produced by the Group’s affiliate SunPower came on stream at the La Mède facility. It has a production capacity of 8 megawatts, enough to meet the energy needs of a city of 13,000 people.

Contributing to Local Employment, Promoting Regional Vitality

The project to transform La Mède provides the complex with the basis for a sustainable future. Thanks to the project, we will be able to maintain 250 jobs at the facility, without any layoffs or forced relocations and with tailored solutions for each employee.

A sustained training program has been implemented with 63,000 hours of training provided to help our employees transition into new professions.

Our teams have also worked with the region’s different institutional and economic players. The goal is to support employment and business activity over the long-term by promoting the development of innovative growth vectors. As part of La Mède’s repurposing, 65% of orders were made with local businesses, representing 800 jobs and €142 million.

In line with our commitment to the local economy, in late 2016, Total signed a voluntary economic and social development agreement of €5 million with the French State, the PACA region and the Aix Marseille-Provence metropolitan area. The agreement provides for a variety of measures, including employment initiatives and support for sub-contractors and new industrial projects for the Etang-de-Berre Fos-sur-Mer area.

In January 2016, Total Développement Régional also signed a partnership agreement with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Marseille-Provence (CCIMP) to enhance deployment of our financial assistance programs for regional small- and medium-sized enterprises and to identify the needs of local industrial players in terms of skills and training.