Total’s China MTO project to attract downstream investment

23 November 2010 11:20  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Total Petrochemicals’ proposed methanol-to-olefins (MTO) and polyolefins project in Inner Mongolia, China, is expected to stimulate the development of downstream conversion in the region, a company executive said on Tuesday.

Graeme Burnett, senior vice president for Asia and Middle East, said that when the project first comes on stream, some of the output will be transported from Inner Mongolia to the coast, where the major market is located.

“But we believe that the inland domestic market will continue to grow, and more and more product will be consumed in the region closer to where it is produced,” he added.

The Chinese government is trying to encourage the development of inland areas, Burnett said.

Brussels-headquartered Total Petrochemicals and Chinese energy group China Power Investment have signed a letter of understanding to study construction of the €2bn-3bn ($2.7bn-4.1bn) complex in coal-rich Inner Mongolia. The project is expected to produce 1m tonnes/year of polyolefins, based on methanol produced from the gasification of coal.

Start-up is expected at the end of 2015 or early 2016, depending on how long it takes to gain the necessary government approvals, Burnett told ICIS in a telephone interview. Total Petrochemicals will handle the marketing of the polyolefins, he added.

The project would enable Total Petrochemicals to develop a major petrochemicals platform in China, and leverage the methanol to olefins (MTO) and Olefins Cracking Process (OCP) technologies developed in Feluy, Belgium, Burnett said. Total Petrochemicals started up a semi-commercial MTO plant in Feluy earlier this year.

The MTO process, developed with US-based process technology company UOP, converts methanol into ethylene and propylene, as well as heavy olefins, while the OCP technology uses a catalytic process to convert the heavy olefins into additional ethylene and propylene.

The capacities of the proposed Inner Mongolia project have not yet been defined, although the complex would produce slightly more PP than PE because the process yields more propylene than ethylene, Burnett said.

“We are finalising the scope of the project,” he added.

($1 = €0.73)

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By: Anna Jagger
+44 20 8652 3214

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