28 July 2010 17:20 [Source: ICIS news]
By John Richardson
So perhaps it shouldn’t be a great surprise that a considerable amount of the planning and thinking going into
To say that this business is 95% about raw-material advantage, however, may, in some instances at least, be an overstatement
Energy efficiency, the environment and logistics matter a great deal, too, which is also reflected in the discussions taking place in
Working committees have been established involving the government and the private sector to help formulate the new direction in these areas.
Despite having no oil or gas reserves to draw on, the country has still managed to build cost-efficient capacity.
This is partly the result of the mixed-feed cracker technologies employed by ExxonMobil and Shell Chemicals enabling the use of refinery products that can have low alternative values in fuels markets.
Shell Chemicals brought on-stream its 800,000 tonne/year cracker in
And ExxonMobil is expected to have commissioned its second cracker on
These two investments will see the country’s ethylene capacity rise from 2m tonne/year to 4m tonne/year.
“This puts us on path to increase our ethylene capacity to 6-8m tonne/year in the long term,” said Liang Ting Wee, Director of Energy and Chemicals at the Economic Development Board (EDB) in an emailed response to questions. The EDB is part of the
The eventual ethylene target suggests that several more crackers might be built in
Further use of refinery bottoms is a feedstock option for additional crackers.
“There is a global trend towards cleaner and low-sulphur transportation fuels,” Liang added.
“The implication of these stricter fuel standards and policies is that there will be more refinery bottoms (available), which can either be upgraded to cleaner fuels, or used as a feedstock for chemicals.
“We are currently studying this closely with the refineries in
He added that
To this end, he said that “in partnership with the industry, we are studying the feasibility of an LPG [liquefied petroleum gas] terminal to enable companies on the island to import LPG in more significant volumes.
“LPG could be used as an alternative feedstock to naphtha for crackers, as well as other industrial users.”
One obvious potential supplier of LPG is Qatar Petroleum, which in November last year acquired equity stakes in two local Shell Chemicals/Sumitomo Chemical joint ventures - cracker operator Petrochemical Corp of
"I'm hopeful that condensates and LPG would flow from
Biomass is another option being evaluated.
“In the area of biomass, we are keen to position
“Our geographical position in the middle of a region rich in biomass, and strong logistics connectivity, coupled with integration opportunities to our chemical industry, will present interesting new opportunities for companies.
“Examples of biomass available in this region include palm-based materials such as palm oil, palm kernel oil and empty fruit bunches, sugar cane, starch-based materials such as cassava and sago palm, as well as cellulosic biomass materials.”
As for energy efficiency and the environment, Liang added: “We are also looking to enhance the sustainability of the chemical industry through R&D in emerging areas such as carbon capture and utilisation. The availability of concentrated streams of CO2 on
Work is also underway to create a comprehensive master-plan to meet the long-term water needs of
This could include use of seawater for cooling towers and recycling waste heat for applications such as water desalination, he said.
Logistics improvements being considered included the feasibility of a second road link between
All of this gives a useful insight into not only how the future could shape-up for
Beyond the current down cycle, significant new capacities will be needed to meet emerging market demand.
The debate taking place in
And to finish as we started on feedstock, ethane gas shortages in the
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