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U.S. oil giant, ExxonMobil Corporation’s (XOM - Analyst Report) affiliate Esso Belgium, a division of ExxonMobil Petroleum & Chemical B.V.B.A, announced further investments at its Antwerp refinery.

The latest investment entails installation of a new delayed coker unit at its Antwerp refinery to convert heavy, higher sulfur residual oils into transportation fuels products such as marine gasoil and diesel fuel. The new unit will augment the refinery’s ability to meet the energy demand throughout northwest Europe.

ExxonMobil has invested over $2 billion in less than a decade at this refinery. Recently, the new unit completed 130 megawatt cogeneration unit and diesel hydrotreater at the Antwerp refinery. Though Europe is witnessing extremely low margins and industry-wide losses due to surplus refining capacity, ExxonMobil is investing in its strategic Antwerp refinery for long-term benefits.

The investment is aimed to tackle the industry deficit with respect to the conversion of fuel oil to products like diesel. The project reinforces ExxonMobil’s long-term view and disciplined approach toward business investments and its plan to further strengthen its position in Europe by assessing several other investments in the currently challenging industry environment.

The robust performance at the Antwerp facility, along with the new deferred coker unit, will enhance ExxonMobil’s integrated downstream and chemical portfolio in northwest Europe and help it compete better.

ExxonMobil is fairly active in its investment program. The company plans to spend about $185 billion over the next five years, up 29% from the last five-year period. The capex covers as many as 21 important oil and gas projects currently under the anvil, which are estimated to accumulate over 1 million net oil-equivalent barrels per day by 2016.

At present, ExxonMobil carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Investors interested in the same sector could consider stocks like Encana Corp (ECA - Analyst Report), Magellan Midstream Partners LP (MMP - Analyst Report) and EQT Corp. (EQT - Analyst Report), all of which sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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