EPCA '07: Furnace revamp in Shell hydrowax plan

01 October 2007 17:17  [Source: ICIS news]

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BERLIN (ICIS news)--Shell’s decision to crack more hydrowax at its Moerdijk cracker in the Netherlands will involve a substantial revamp of two furnaces to deal with the heavier feed, Graham van’t Hoff, vice president for base chemicals in Europe said on Monday.

Shell is making what it calls “a significant investment” to strengthen integration between the Pernis refinery and Moerdijk chemicals complex.

The nameplate 900,000 tonne/year Moerdijk cracker will produce closer to 940,000 tonnes of ethylene this year, van’t Hoff said on the sidelines of the European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) conference.

The investment in hydrowax cracking capability and $150m (€105m) spend during the cracker's last turnaround on new turbines and other key equipment will help lift the cracker’s reliability, he said.

"Our reliability has been about the industry average,” he added. “But as a major olefins supplier, that is not good enough.”

Shell intends to keep the Moerdijk assets in the first quartile of industry performance, he said.

Some heavy feeds have been cracked at Moerdijk before but with limitations, van’t Hoff said.

Shell will take hydrowax by barge from the Pernis refinery to Moerdijk to feed the new furnaces. The hydrowax could be used as cat cracker feed in the refinery but Shell will use vacuum gas oil (VGO) as an alternative.

The decision to invest further in the cracker at Moerdijk and on bringing hydrowax to the site is part of its heavy feed strategy and its “strategy for the heartlands” that focuses on asset integrity and performance over the long term, van’t Hoff said.

The programme includes an expansion of the Pernis isopropyl alcohol (IPA) plant and plans to increase flexible polyols capacity at Pernis.

Mark Watts contributed to this story

By: Nigel Davis
+44 20 8652 3214

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