By John Richardson
SHELL Chemicals announcement that it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for a cracker and derivatives project in Qatar seems to have upped the ante in what could be a struggle for only one parcel of feedstock.
Graeme Burnett, Total Petrochemical’s senior vice president for Asia and the Middle East, in November re-emphasised the French major’s interest in a cracker project in Qatar.
He perhaps sounded the right note when he stressed Total’s interest in adding to a particular country’s product portfolio in the Middle East through building the styrene and polypropylene (PP) facilities. Qatar only has ethylene derivatives.
ExxonMobil also has a cracker project on its books in Qatar which has reportedly been delayed.
Source of picture: Qatar Living
When we asked a source close to Shell whether there was enough feedstock for one, two or three new crackers in Qatar recently, he said: “That’s a very good question you would need to address to Qatar. The position is not clear.”
And last November Ben van Beurden, executive vice-president of Shell, told the blog:
“Ideally, we’d like to build two crackers and two OMEGA process monoethylene glycol (MEG) plants on the scale of this one here in Singapore, but at the moment there is simply not enough ethane.
“There are only so many allocations of ethane available from Qatar at the moment and plenty of interested parties.”
Qatar’s moratorium on new allocations of gas from its North Field and a keen awareness of alternative values for natural gas all seem to be factors in limiting feedstock supply for petrochemicals.