EPCA '03: UK ethylene pipeline to Continent revitalised

30 September 2003 13:51  [Source: ICIS news]

MONTE CARLO, Monaco (CNI)--Ethylene producers are actively discussing construction of an ethylene pipeline linking the UK and Continental Europe and hoping for government support, it was learned here Tuesday on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the European Petrochemical Association (EPCA).

A pipeline link between the UK and Continent would significantly increase the flexibility of British crackers and help bring costs down for producers. While the project idea is not new, having been actively promoted in the early 1990s, there is renewed opportunity for progress with the scheme, the industry believes.

An existing pipeline links crackers at Grangemouth (run by BP), Mossmorran (Shell/ExxonMobil) and Wilton (Huntsman) with plants at Carrington and Stanlow in north west England. ExxonMobil currently takes ethylene from Mossmorran to feed polyethylene (PE) units in Belgium. Shell takes its share of the Mossmorran cracker output to feed PE capacity at Carrington and its higher olefins plant in Stanlow.

US petrochemicals producer Huntsman has planned to build a polyethylene plant at Wilton (its first move into polyethylene) following decisions by Dow Chemical, Basell and BP to reduce olefins off-take. BP runs ethylene by pipeline from Grangemouth via Teesside to Saltend, Hull, on England's North Sea coast.

UK producers have long looked at the possibility of an ethylene link from Great Yarmouth on the North Sea cost to Antwerp and the ARG olefins pipeline network and producers like Shell have invested in the country’s ethylene pipeline infrastructure. Cost, however, has been a barrier to extending current links undersea.

Extension of the European ethylene pipeline network – centred on the ARG – would increase operational flexibility but also enable further rationalisation to take place, the industry believes. There have also been long-held plans to link facilities in the Rhone valley area of France into the ARG.

By: Nigel Davis
+44 20 8652 3214

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