The next stage – shifting steam production from heavy oil to gas as its main energy source – will reduce carbon emissions by 5%, particulate pollutants by 33% and nitrogen oxide by 38%. Sulphur oxide emissions will be totally eliminated.

According to Rusal, the rationale behind gas-powered steam production is the low cost of gas and the inherent environmental benefits.

Foster Wheeler AG will supply the steam generators and auxiliary equipment. Installation begins in 2014.

“The two steam generators will be designed to generate a total of 300 tonnes per hour of reliable, high-pressure super-heated steam and will completely replace the oil-fired boilers,” said Rusal.

Valeriy Matvienko, Rusal’s alumina division director, said, “The shift to gas-powered steam production will enable Aughinish to significantly increase its economic and environmental performance, which is of great importance in the current market conditions and in light of the upcoming EU Directive on industrial emissions, scheduled to come to force in 2016. It is a real boost to the refinery’s efficiency, which is already one of the highest performing in the industry.”