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The refining process for crude oil

The refining of crude oil for the production of finished goods (LPG, diesel, petrol) is carried out through a process of  fractional distillation (a “physical” process), followed by conversion and upgrading operations (processes/transformations of a chemical nature).




Fractional distillation is a two-step process:

  • the first step is carried out at atmospheric pressure (primary atmospheric distillation or topping), and, being the most volatile, the first product is LPG. This is followed by increasingly heavy hydrocarbon blends: naphtha (the name given to petrol before further upgrading), kerosene (jet fuel for aircraft) and diesel;
  • and a second step in a vacuum (secondary atmospheric distillation or vacuum).

The heaviest components of petroleum products that are not able to evaporate (heavy diesel and residues) are subjected to a conversion process called cracking, with the aim of manufacturing finished products  analogous to those produced by atmospheric distillation: i.e. LPG, petrol and diesel.

Theavy diesels are subsequently sent to conversion plants, such as:
  • Hydrocraking: processes with high temperature and high pressure hydrogen to obtain diesel;
  • FCC: a process of thermal/catalytic cracking to obtain (mainly) petrol;
  • solvent extraction: for the production of lubricants.

Different conversion technologies are used at Eni’s refining facilities, in particular: visbreaking, deasphalting, gasification, LC, finfing, and a new technology developed by Eni called EST (see details below).

The products obtained by distillation and conversion are subjected to an upgrading procedure through which they pass through the necessary processes for transformation into finished products: LPG, petrol, jet fuel and diesel. The main processes used for this are:
  • desulphurisation with hydrogen, which involves a process for the removal of sulphur to limit the emission of polluting substances;
  • optimisation, which is a process aimed at improving the engine performance of petrol.

During the year, at the Sannazzaro de’ Burgondi refinery, a plant for the conversion of residues became fully operational. The plant uses proprietary Eni technology called EST (Eni Slurry Technology) with performance in line with expectations. 

The EST technology has the advantage of entirely converting  distilled loads and enhancing distillation residues from heavy and ultra-heavy crude oil, as well as non-conventional resources.

The logistics process

Two distinct logistic processes are used to transport oil to Eni’s refineries: a primary logistic process, using a vast network of oil pipelines and a supply process, using oil tankers for longer distances.

The sale and storage of finished products, LPG and crude is carried out using a secondary logistics process for which Eni is one of the major players in Italy due to its directly owned and managed network of pipelines and a system of  15 storage depots, distributed across the country.



Eni’s logistics operations in Italy are organised on the basis of a hub structure, with three main areas through the monitoring and centralisation of product handling flows to ensure greater efficiency, particularly in the collection and processing of orders.

The retail and wholesale distribution process

The process consists of several stages: from analysis and planning to the implementation and control of sales.

Eni’s entire commercial process is structured to guarantee the efficient distribution of fuels of certified quality to ensure customer satisfaction and the continuous improvement of the service.

The products from the refineries are distributed through two different channels: retail and wholesale.



The network is a combination of directly owned Eni and Agip service stations, both across Italy and abroad. On 31 December 2015 the distribution network in Italy totalled some 4,420 sales outlets.

This is the market for finished goods not sold through the network of service stations. In the wholesale market, Eni markets fuels including diesel for transport, heating, agriculture and the marine sector; petrol and fuel oil; jet fuel. The wholesale customers are the retailers of these products, industrial companies, service companies, public and municipal bodies and end-users.

The new Eni: creating value through energy transition

The Strategy we presented on 28 February 2020 consists of the Long-Term Strategic Plan to 2050 and the 2020-2023 Action Plan. In general, we have designed a strategy that mixes economic and environmental sustainability. This will enable Eni to be leader in the market, to which it will supply strongly decarbonised energy products, actively contributing to the energy transition process. 

A new form of energy through innovation and sustainability

The principles guiding our journey will remain the same: promoting the UN’s sustainable development objectives – a fundamental aspect of our mission – and maintaining a solid financial position, which will still underpin all our decisions.
The strategy is a blueprint for Eni’s evolution over the next 30 years. It envisions a business enhanced by the increasing use of renewables, focused on the circular economy and based on targets for reducing our carbon footprint in line with the aims of the Paris Agreement – the commitment signed by 195 countries to reduce emissions and fight climate change.
Over the course of this evolution, which will be based on sustainability, proprietary technologies, innovation, flexibility and the resilience of company assets, Eni seeks to play an active role in the energy transition process as well as take advantage of new opportunities to develop and improve efficiency

Refining & Marketing

The main medium/long-term strategic guidelines are as follows: • expansion of bio-refining capacity to over 5 million tonnes per year, supplied exclusively with 2nd and 3rd generation "palm-oil free" feedstocks, in target areas such as the Far and Middle East, Europe for biojet fuel production and the United States; • progressive conversion of traditional Italian refining sites through new plants for production of hydrogen, methanol, biomethane and products from recycling of waste materials; • in the long-term, the Ruwais refinery in the United Arab Emirates will be the only traditional refinery in operation, capitalising on its optimal location and operational efficiency; • gradual evolution of product mix sold in retail outlets, reaching 100% decarbonised products by 2050; • Increase of additional services offer to improve margins and enhance customer loyalty. 8 In line with the medium-long term strategy, the 2020-2023 Action Plan has the following objectives: • consolidation and integration of traditional refining activities with Ruwais refinery reaching full potential including contribution from trading activities; • continued diversification through investments in biorefining. Our bioprocessing capacity will be 1 million tonnes by 2023 and palm-oil free; • development of circular economy initiatives for the production of hydrogen and methanol from the recycling of waste materials and from castor oil, both new feedstocks for biorefining; • European marketing consolidation favouring high-margin segments and further development of non-oil services in retail; • increased offer of alternative fuels and development of sustainable mobility. These actions will make it possible to achieve a cumulative organic free cash flow of € 2.6 billion over the period 2020-2023.


Long Term Strategic Plan to 2050 Presentation and Press Release: click here
To stay up to date about Eni' Publications: click here

Eni Austria GmbH is an ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2015, ISO 45001:2018 and ISO 50001:2018 certified company and meets the ISO quality standards. Below you will find the certificates in PDF format which you can download.

ISO 9001:2015 Certificate
ISO 14001:2015 Certificate
ISO 45001:2018 Certificate
ISO 50001:2018 Certificate