Tuesday, September 26

Cepsa begins the dismantling of the oldest refinery in Spain in Tenerife

View of the Cepsa refinery in Santa Cruz de Tenerife from the factory’s viewpoint. / EFE/ramon de la rocha

The 573,000 square meters of land that Santa Cruz will recover in 2030 will be planned to be a benchmark for sustainable urban planning

Rocio Mendoza

Santa Cruz de Tenerife was the setting chosen for the Compañía Española de Petróleos SA (Cepsa) to start up what would become the first refinery in Spain in 1929. Today, almost a century later and with the needs of society and of the island population itself pointing in another direction, its removal has begun.

The 573,000 square meters that the factory occupies (equivalent to almost 150 football fields) and the storage tanks will be a space that recovers the city, which has grown around the refinery, previously located on the outskirts and now practically in the center of Santa Cruz.

That moment is expected to come in the year 2030, when the process of decommissioning industrial facilities has been fully completed. These works will be carried out in different phases. Now there is no refining activity at the factory, but it is used to store the fuel that is later distributed and marketed on the islands.

If we take into account that Cepsa’s products (butane, propane, gasoline, electricity, lubricants, kerosene for airplanes, asphalt, etc.) cover -according to data provided by the company itself- 65% of the total energy needs of the islands, the cessation cannot be immediate. It will be necessary for the company to have the new industrial facilities that it is building in the Port of Granadilla, another area of ​​the island where the aforementioned company already has the concession to operate.

It is estimated that in approximately 2025 this part of the plan will be completed. From then on, it will be time for the cleaning work of the soils (remediation, in the jargon) that have signs of contamination and the dismantling of the facilities themselves.

Also Read  Jury begins deliberations in trial of Texas man who stormed Capitol | U.S. Capitol attack

Yesterday one of them began in a symbolic way: the merox, a part of the refinery used to obtain commercial gasoline. It will be followed by the huge crude oil storage tanks this year and up to five factory units later.

The merox, the first installation that will begin to be uninstalled from the Tenerife refinery. /


The removal of this first deposit was part of the symbolic act organized by Cepsa today at the facilities of the Tenerife refinery itself to mark this day on the calendar as a milestone on the road to the future decarbonisation of the Canary Islands and its energy transition towards a more sustainable.

A paradigm shift to which the company is already directing its business strategy for the immediate future. “We are writing the future of Cepsa and the future of the islands, which will be leaders in green energy and sustainable mobility,” said the CEO of the petrochemical company, Maarten Wetsellaar, who was surrounded by local and island authorities, as well as the the Minister for the Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera.

A social demand

During her speech, the Third Vice President of the Government highlighted the importance of that day on which the de-installation began, both because of “Cepsa’s positive movement to look at what the 21st century demands” and because of the relevance that this factory has for island families.

In its day, it employed more than a thousand people and, as the president of the Cabildo Canario, Pedro Martín, pointed out, there are few people on the island who do not have some direct or indirect link with the factory. Almost a century of operation and revitalization of the local economy explain the roots, the “pride of belonging” was described by the representative of the island administration, which has the brand in Tenerife.

For the company’s workers, represented by a small group that was present at the official act, both Minister Ribera and Martín had words of recognition, and appealed to take care of their “job stability” in the new stage.

The CEO of Cepsa intervenes in the symbolic act that marks the beginning of the deinstallation works of the Tenerife refinery, under the gaze of the Minister for the Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera.

The mayor of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, José Manuel Bermúdez, who also had words for the families historically linked to the factory, highlighted the turning point that yesterday’s event meant for the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, which has the challenge of take advantage of this “historic opportunity”, as the first mayor of the city described it.

In June 2018, the City Council and the company signed an agreement to study the urban regeneration of the land and its transformation into municipal and residential use called ‘Santa Cruz Verde 2030’. It will be precisely that year in which the land is expected to be returned without a trace of the industrial facility so that the local and regional authorities can design what they will build on it.

In line with the spirit of achieving an ecological transition for the islands, the project aims to be a model of sustainability, at all levels. From mobility, to energy supply, through the environmental standards of the constructions that are made there, whether for residential, tourist or dotational use for the city.

From the perpetual flame to the green lung

Green areas, of course, are also contemplated in the urban design of the area, to the point of wanting to convert what was previously a refinery into a “green lung”. There are no defined deadlines for the design, planning, authorization and execution of this urban macroproject.

The closure of the refinery and the disappearance of the crude oil tanks, a moment scheduled for three years from now, will not mean that these fuels will cease to be an important part of the energy supply of the Canary Islands, but they mark the beginning of a different era. In the words of the President of the Canarian Government, Ángel Víctor Torres, “the oil of the future is the wind, the sun, geothermal energy and the force of water”.

A movement outside the monopoly 92 years ago

In September 1929 the Compañía Española de Petróleos SA (Cepsa) was established and in April 1930 permission was requested from the Santa Cruz City Council (mayor García Sanabria’s commitment) to install a refinery on the Costa Sur land, then completely far from the neuralgic center of the incipient city. Seven months later, the Tenerife refinery was inaugurated and the first shipment of crude oil, from Aruba (Venezuela), entered the oil tanker Oleander. The election in Santa Cruz de Tenerife was favored for two fundamental reasons. On the one hand, the Petroleum Monopoly Law of 1927 prevented the installation of private oil industries on the Peninsula –the activity remained in the hands of Campsa–, while the Free Ports Law facilitated their installation on the Islands. On the other hand, the strategic position of the Archipelago, the existence of the ports of Santa Cruz and Las Palmas (where there were many international shipping lines), led to the choice of Tenerife due to its geographical location for connections.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *