21 December 2010 17:57 [Source: ICIS news]
By Nigel Davis
Companies and countries are looking hard at the best ways to monetise gas - as liquefied natural gas (LNG), or in chemicals. At the same time ethane availability has been under close scrutiny given the constraints on oil production through the recession and financial crisis.
Shell must be encouraged by the signing in
The project has been mooted for years but now the real feasibility work can begin - including a timescale for the cracker and the wider petrochemical project.
The MEG plant will use Shell’s Only MEG Advantage or OMEGA technology, which boasts a 99% ethylene oxide conversion rate and virtually no di- and tri- ethylene glycol byproducts. It is the world’s first entirely catalytic MEG process and has a very low ethylene consumption rate, Shell claims.
The MoU plants a stake in the ground in what has become a political game of one-upmanship between the oil/petrochemical majors in
ExxonMobil had been working with Qatar Petroleum to develop a 1.6m tonne/year steam cracker, two 650,000 tonne/year gas-phase polyethylene (PE) plants and a 700,000 tonne/year MEG plant using ExxonMobil cracking and PE technologies, Qatar Petroleum said in January this year.
The project would use feedstock from gas development projects in
Little has been heard officially of this project and the heads of agreement signed at the time, despite widespread rumours that it has been shelved because of poor economics.
Total said at the end of November that it was in the early stages of discussions with Qatar Petroleum for a mixed-feed cracker project. Earlier, South Korea-based Honam Petrochemical backed out of a cracker complex plan with the state-controlled oil and gas producer.
The long-running saga - it is not so long since Shell suggested that there might be enough feedstock for three world-scale crackers and MEG projects in Qatar - reflects not only on the discussions going on in Qatar concerning gas and liquids feedstock availability, but also on a much wider regional issue.
Consultants have suggested that (ethane) gas in
At the same time,
Gas is being extracted for conversion to liquids and is being liquefied for export. Shell is involved in the giant
An alternative, of course, might be to leave the gas in the ground so that it can benefit future generations.
Governments particularly want access to a much broader (petro) chemicals product slate if they are to realise plans to flesh out nascent manufacturing industries, provide employment and develop a stronger and more diverse industrial base.
Monetising less readily available and sometimes more expensive feedstocks by conversion to chemicals can make sense but often in a different way than before.
The days of the large
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