ExxonMobil’s expansion of its Fawley refinery on the south coast of England will be supported by a new hydrogen plant.

The investment of more than $1bn will increase production of ultra-low sulphur diesel by almost 45% and includes a hydrotreater unit to remove sulphur from fuel, supported by a hydrogen plant, which combined will also help improve the refinery’s overall energy efficiency.

ExxonMobil claims the investment will help reduce the need to import diesel into the UK, which imported about half of its supply in 2017.

“ExxonMobil continues to invest in the Fawley refinery and chemical plant, Britain’s largest integrated facility,” said Bryan Milton, president of ExxonMobil Fuels and Lubricants Company.

“This investment will make Fawley refinery the most efficient in the UK, supporting Esso’s industry-leading logistics and fuels marketing operations.”

The US, Texas-based oil and gas corporation plans construction at Fawley, close to Southampton, to begin in late 2019, subject to regulatory approval, and start up is expected in 2021.