ExxonMobil has committed to plans to expand its Fawley refinery near Southampton to increase production of ultra-low sulfur diesel by almost 45%, or 38,000 barrels per day, along with logistics improvements.

“ExxonMobil continues to invest in the Fawley refinery and chemical plant, Britain’s largest integrated facility,” said Bryan Milton, president of ExxonMobil Fuels and Lubricants Company. “This investment will make Fawley refinery the most efficient in the UK, supporting Esso’s industry-leading logistics and fuels marketing operations.”

The investment will help reduce the need to import diesel into the UK, which imported about half of its supply in 2017.

The investment includes a hydrotreater unit to remove sulfur from fuel, supported by a hydrogen plant, which combined will also help improve the refinery’s overall energy efficiency.

Construction is scheduled to begin in late 2019, subject to regulatory approval, and start-up is expected in 2021.

The UK Petroleum Industry Association (UKPIA) welcomed the decision by ExxonMobil.

UKPIA director-general Stephen Marcos Jones said: “This nearly £800m investment is a real vote of confidence in the UK refining sector. Following other recent announcements from other UKPIA member companies of investments in their sites and distribution networks, this news is further proof of how the UK downstream oil sector continues to support growth and high-skilled jobs across the economy.”