APIC '10: Ras Laffan Olefins mulls ethane cracker expansion

14 May 2010 04:25  [Source: ICIS news]

By Malini Hariharan

MUMBAI (ICIS news)--Ras Laffan Olefins Co (RLOC) has initiated a study to expand its newly commissioned 1.3m tonne/year ethane cracker in Qatar, a source close to the company said on Friday.

“The company sees a bubble of ethane availability from the Pearl gas-to-liquids (GTL) project which will be about 1m tonnes/year. They are looking to take that and expand the cracker from 1.3m tonnes/year to 1.6m tonnes/year,” the source said on the sidelines of Asia Petrochemical Industry Conference 2010 (APIC) being held at Mumbai.

As the ethane would not be available to RLOC for the long term, the company was also looking at cracking propane, he added.

“A study has been initiated and they will do it as quickly as possible. But there is the issue of propane [cracking] and other technical and political issues as well,” he stated.

Qatar faces an ethane constraint as available supplies have been allocated and additional volumes are likely to be available only after a moratorium on new gas projects is lifted in 2014.

RLOC faces competition from other companies that have also drawn up plans for cracker projects in Qatar.

Earlier this year, ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum announced plans for a 1.6m tonne/year plant for start up in 2015.

A senior Shell executive said recently that the company had proposed using utilities from Pearl GTL for a cracker project in Qatar. The GTL project that is being developed by parent company Shell is due to start operations next year.

The source indicated that if the expansion was feasible, RLOC would do it by 2011-2012.

The additional ethylene would be used by Q-Chem and Qatofin to debottleneck their derivative plants, he added.

Q-Chem, a joint venture between Chevron Phillips Chemical and Qatar Petroleum, has high density polyethylene (HDPE) and alpha olefins plants downstream of RLOC while Qatofin, a joint-venture between Qatar Petroleum and Total, has a 450,000 tonne/year linear low density polyethylene (LDPE) plant.

RLOC is a joint venture between Q-Chem, Qatofin and Qatar Petroleum. 

Joseph Chang and John Richardson contributed to this story

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Read John Richardson and Malini Hariharan’s blog – Asian Chemical Connections

By: Malini Hariharan
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