GPCA ‘11: Polimeri Europa to reconfigure cracker network – CEO

13 December 2011 15:07  [Source: ICIS news]

(recasts, clarifying capacities in paragraphs 8-10)

DUBAI (ICIS)--Italy’s Polimeri Europa revealed plans on Tuesday to reconfigure its network of naphtha crackers, located in Italy, and shift the focus from polyethylene (PE) to the elastomer chain.

Chairman and CEO Daniele Ferrari said changes will be made at three integrated cracker/PE sites – Porto Torres, Priolo and Porto Marghera – plus its aromatics complex in Sarroch in Sardinia. The changes are necessary because the plants are unprofitable and use old technologies, he said.

The move is part of Polimeri Europa’s new strategy to shift away from the traditional commodity sector and concentrate on elastomers, green chemistry and the licensing of technology. In particular, the company intends to adjust its crackers to increase output of butadiene – a key raw material, Ferrari said.

To reflect the change in strategy, Polimeri Europa, which is wholly owned by Eni, will change its name on 1 January, he said. He did not reveal the names under consideration.

The reshaping of the four sites is expected to require an investment of about €1.5bn ($1.97bn) over the next four years, Ferrari said. Of that figure, approximately €750m will be invested in Porto Torres, €280m in Priolo, €80m in Sarroch and €60m in Porto Marghera, he added.

Polimeri Europa closed its 250,000 tonne/year cracker and 250,000 tonne/year PE plant in Porto Torres in April 2011. The plants will be replaced with a bio-refinery joint venture project with Italy’s Novamont, announced in May.

The bio-refinery project is expected to be completed in 2014 and require an investment of about €500m, Ferrari said. Eni is also planning an approximately €200m biomass-driven power plant at the Porto Torres site, he added.

In Priolo, Polimeri Europa intends to close one of two lines, of equal size, at its 745,000 tonne/year nameplate capacity cracker, and also close a 150,000 tonne/year nameplate capacity polyethylene line by the end of 2012, Ferrari said.

The company will modify the remaining cracker line for olefins and C4-cut  production and to supply the C5 and C9 cuts for the production of intermediates for elastomers, including isoprene and tackifying resins, he said. The project is expected to reach full operations by the end of 2013/early 2014.

In Porto Marghera, Polimeri Europa plans to improve the efficiency of its 490,000 tonne/year nameplate capacity cracker, Ferrari said.

In Sarroch, the company intends to focus on paraxylene (PX), an important feedstock for purified terephthalic acid (PTA)/polyethylene terephthalate (PET), Ferrari said. Instead of producing orthoxylene (OX), PX and metaxylene, the plant will just produce PX, he explained. This project is expected to be completed by the end of 2013.

Ferrari was speaking on the sidelines of the 6th Annual GPCA (Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Association) Forum in Dubai.

(€1 = $0.76)

By: Anna Jagger
+44 20 8652 3214

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