EPCA’10: INEOS looks for more ethylene flexibility in Europe

03 October 2010 15:53  [Source: ICIS news]

BUDAPEST (ICIS)--INEOS’s decision to build a 1m tonne/year ethylene terminal at Antwerp, Belgium, was the first growth project the company revitalised after the recession, a company official said on Sunday.

INEOS cut all growth projects during the global economic downturn to focus spending on essential maintenance and to preserve cash.

“We dramatically reduced our cost base through the downturn,” said INEOS group director Tom Crotty, who was speaking on the sidelines of the 44th annual meeting of the European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) in Budapest, Hungary.

INEOS is 1m tonnes short on ethylene and about 750,000 tonnes/year short on propylene. The Antwerp ethylene terminal would give the company the capability to move its own ethylene around northeast Europe and would also let INEOS tap into deep-sea ethylene availability.

“We’ve been looking to do this project for about five years,” said Crotty. “A terminal gives us a huge amount of flexibility.”

Ethylene from the company's cracker at Grangemouth, UK, and the cracker at Rafnes, Norway, could be brought in through the terminal.

INEOS could crack more liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) at the Norway cracker, Crotty suggested. Additional ethane isn’t available following the decision by the parties involved not to go ahead with the Skanled pipeline and further ethane extraction.

At Grangemouth, the company has recently invested in the small 320,000 tonne/year G4 cracker but still has plans to shut it at some stage.

INEOS is planning to make investments to crack heavier feeds at the larger KG cracker at the site. These would be refinery off-gases, mainly butane, which would replace dwindling ethane availability as Britain’s North Sea gas reserves are depleted.

The project to convert the 700,000 tonne/year cracker was about half way through completion when the recession hit. A decision would be made on the future of the G4 unit in about 12-18 months' time, Crotty said.

This year's EPCA meeting runs from 2-6 October.

($1 = €0.73)

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By: Nigel Davis
+44 20 8652 3214

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