TotalEnergies Phoenix

Converting an oil refinery into a biorefinery

To meet growing demand for biofuels, TotalEnergies has converted a large part of its oil refining site at La Mède, near Marseille, into a biorefinery. With a production capacity of 500,000 t of biodiesel per year, the new unit is one of the largest in Europe.

 TotalEnergies entrusted Artelia with the technical and financial study for this large-scale operation.


The use of biofuels is one of the levers of the energy transition, envisaged to reduce the carbon footprint of transport by offering an alternative to liquid petroleum fuels. As a major producer and distributor of biofuels in Europe, TotalEnergies has chosen to invest in this area. By converting part of its La Mède refinery, the energy company has created a world-class production infrastructure in France, with a capacity to produce 500,000 t/year of HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil) biodiesel. The plant was designed to process all types of vegetable oils, as well as animal fats, cooking oils, residual oils, etc. This conversion was accompanied by several complementary operations, including the construction of a photovoltaic farm and an AdBlue production workshop. One of the former units was also transformed into a training and apprenticeship center, Oléum Sud.

Artelia carried out the technical and financial studies for this conversion, which involved adapting logistics, utilities, the electrical network and control systems, modifying a multitude of equipment and creating new ones (steam boiler, storage). Our teams were also involved in setting up the solar power plant and creating the Oléum Sud training center. A team of 80 people was mobilized, bringing together the Group’s different areas of expertise.