Ineos, Europe’s largest petrochemicals company, today announced that it had selected Antwerp, Belgium, as the site of a previously announced ethane cracker and world-scale propane dehydrogenation (PDH) project in Europe. The €3-billion ($3.4 billion) investment is the largest in the European chemicals sector in 20 years and could be a game changer for the Belgian economy, the company says. It is also Ineos’s largest-ever investment.
Jim Ratcliffe, CEO and chairman of Ineos, said at the announcement in Antwerp, “Our investment in a gas cracker and world-scale PDH unit is the largest of its kind in Europe for more than a generation and is an important development for the European petrochemical industry. We believe this investment will reverse years of decline in the European chemical sector.”
The new petrochemical complex will be co-located with Ineos’s existing sites in Europe that make polymers and will be connected by pipeline to a number of the company’s ethylene and propylene derivatives units in the region. Ineos already has a major presence in Belgium, employing 2,500 people across nine manufacturing sites and one technology center, with six of these located at Antwerp.
Ineos said in July that it had approved construction of the PDH unit and ethane cracker at a single site. Each unit will benefit from US shale gas economics. The cracker will be designed to produce 1 million metric tons/year (MMt/y) of ethylene, and the PDH plant will have capacity for 750,000 metric tons/year of propylene. The PDH project is more advanced and is due onstream in 2023, and the cracker is expected online in 2024, Ineos says.
Ineos has selected the Lummus Catofin process, owned by McDermott, for the PDH plant. In parallel, an agreement has been signed with Clariant for the long-term supply of catalysts for the PDH plant. It will feed Ineos’s polypropylene units as well as a number of other downstream propylene-derivative businesses.
The projects will increase Ineos’s self-sufficiency in olefins. Its crackers in Europe together produce about 3 MMt/y of ethylene, compared with the company’s regional consumption of 4 MMt/y. The shortfall is met by purchasing from a variety of sources. Ineos is also a net buyer of propylene. It makes about 1.5 MMt/y of propylene but consumes almost 1 MMt/y more than it produces.
Ineos is, in addition, adding a combined 900,000 metric tons/year of ethylene capacity at its Grangemouth, United Kingdom, and Rafnes, Norway, steam crackers. The projects build on the huge investment the company has made to ship ethane derived from shale gas from the United States to Europe and will ensure the long-term future of the company’s chemical plants in Europe, the company says. The new projects will increase Ineos’s self-sufficiency in all key olefins.
John McNally, CEO of the Antwerp project, said at the announcement, “The selection of Antwerp as a location for these new assets is a significant step forward for the development of this project. This decision builds upon our long-standing relationship with the Port of Antwerp, the City of Antwerp, and the governments of Flanders and Belgium.”
Rob Ingram, CEO at Ineos’s olefins and polymers Europe north business, said, “The addition of these world-scale assets, using cutting-edge technologies that are also highly energy-efficient, will give us a competitive and sustainable cost base. We believe this will significantly strengthen the whole of the ethylene and propylene derivative chains within Ineos and allows us to continue to support the growth and development of our customers for years to come.”
Other petrochemical producers are investing in olefins in Europe. Borealis recently made a final investment decision to build a $1-billion, 740,000-metric tons/year PDH plant at Kallo, near Antwerp, based on the Honeywell UOP Oleflex technology. Grupa Azoty, meanwhile, is building a 400,000-metric tons/year PDH plant at Police, Poland, also using the Oleflex process.
By Natasha Alperowicz
Source: Chemical Week
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