ExxonMobil in Belgium: continual investment in energy efficiency

Brussels European Technology Center technicians working on film plastics technology

ExxonMobil’s presence in Belgium dates back to 1891. With around 2,000 employees in Belgium, the company operates a refinery, three chemical plants, as well as a technology center and a regional head office for Europe, Middle East and Africa. Its fuels and lubricants are marketed under the Esso and Mobil brands, its chemical products under the ExxonMobil brand.

ExxonMobil’s continuous investment priorities are energy efficiency, safety, cleaner products and technologies, as well as reducing the sites’ environmental footprint. As CEO Jan Michielsen explains:

Over the last 15 years, ExxonMobil has invested €2.6 billion in Belgium, strengthening the position and efficiency of our plants, despite the challenging industry environment. It is through the constant commitment to technology and innovation that ExxonMobil contributes to finding solutions to society’s dual challenge: the rising demand for affordable energy on the one hand and the risks of climate change on the other.

Jan Michielsen, CEO of ExxonMobil
ExxonMobil refinery in Antwerp

Antwerp refinery – modern & efficient

A prime example of this is the recent construction at the Antwerp refinery of a delayed coker unit (2018), a co-generation plant (2010) and a desulphurization plant (2008).

The Antwerp refinery has a production capacity of approximately 320,000 barrels per day and has been in production since 1953.

With the new coker, a billion dollar investment which converts high-sulfur oil products into cleaner transportation fuels, ExxonMobil meets the demand for low-sulfur transportation fuels. Along with the previous investments, it makes the Antwerp refinery one of the most modern and efficient in the world.

Global hub for energy and chemical innovation

ExxonMobil’s European Technology Center in Machelen is a global hub for energy and chemical innovation. The research center, which celebrated 50 years in 2018, works to improve modern daily life and provide a lower carbon footprint.

Through innovative chemical processes, the company works on projects to reduce energy consumption at their manufacturing facilities and reduce vehicle weight, as well as, extending shelf life of fresh food and increasing crop yield in farming and greenhouses.

Research and development into algae

ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions

The company invests $1 billion annually in research and development, including low-emission technologies such as CO2 capture and storage, or Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), and advanced biofuels such as from algae.

In the Port of Antwerp, ExxonMobil has been a partner in Antwerp@C since 2020. This consortium is evaluating the feasibility of a cross-border collaboration to build CCS capacity and infrastructure.

In 2021, ExxonMobil created a new business, ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions, to commercialize and deploy technologies that will have a demonstrable impact on lowering emissions. The initial focus will be on carbon capture and storage. The business will also leverage ExxonMobil’s significant experience in the production of hydrogen which, when coupled with CCS, is likely to play a critical role in a lower-carbon energy system.

Local impact of operations

The longstanding presence of ExxonMobil in Belgium resonates in different domains. First of all, by creating direct employment and economic added value. But the effect of their presence goes much further.

Every year, ExxonMobil spends an average of €1.3 billion in large and small businesses: contractors, technical suppliers and in-house services. These investments lead to new opportunities for small and large entrepreneurs, contribute to local community projects and result in strong partnerships.

With multiple partners, ExxonMobil works together in the fields of education, safety and innovation. Every year, the organization of the Sci-Tech Challenge challenges high school pupils to find innovative solutions around current problems.

ExxonMobil’s researchers work closely with leading European and Belgian universities to continuously challenge the scientific status quo and to advance the fundamental understanding of materials.

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About the company in this story...


  • ExxonMobil was established in Belgium in 1891.
  • It currently has a refinery operating in Antwerp and chemical plants in Antwerp, Zwijndrecht and Meerhout. It also has an European Technology Center and EMEA head office in Machelen-Diegem.
  • www.exxonmobil.be
  • 320,000 barrels of production capacity per day in Antwerp.
  • $1 billion invested anually in low-emission technologies and CO2 capture research.
  • 2,050 employees in Belgium
0.6 billion
Invested in Belgium during the past 15 years

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