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Singapore Value-add Chem Announcements Expected Soon

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By John Richardson on 05-May-2010

ben_van_beurden.jpgBen van Beurden of Shell Chemicals


Source of picture: Shell.com


By John Richardson

SINGAPORE looks set to soon make some further announcements on high-value investments downstream of the new Shell Eastern Petrochemical Co (SEPC) cracker.

The complex – which comprises an 800,000 tonne/year mixed-feed cracker and a 750,000 tonne/year OMEGA process monoethylene glycol (MEG) plant – was officially opened yesterday.

SEPC already has a contract in place to supply raffinate 1 and 2, after butadiene has been extracted, to Lanxess’s 100,000 tonne/year butyl rubber project, said Ben van Beurden, executive vice president of Shell Chemicals, in an exclusive interview.

SEPC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Shell Chemicals.

Lanxess, the German speciality chemicals major, is due to hold a groundbreaking ceremony for its project this month.

The start-up date for the planned facility was advanced to Q1 2013 in January this year, after being earlier delayed by the global economic crisis.

Butadiene sales from SEPC (it has a 155,000 tonne/year capacity) were a mixture of over-the-fence and exports, van Beurden added.

And he said: “We also have surplus propylene and ethylene (from the new cracker) and we are in advanced discussions on an array of options to make use of these feedstocks. Announcements will be made in the coming months.”

He was unable to disclose any details.

My colleagues at ICIS pricing estimate that Shell has 150,000 tonne/year of ethylene for export at the moment with van Beurden adding that some surplus C2s are being sold to domestic customers.

Some of the propylene produced by the cracker (450,000 tonne/year) is being sold to the Shell Singapore-based styrene monomer/propylene oxide subsidiary, Seraya Chemicals, with exports also taking place, he added.

The cracker also has the capability to produce 230,000 tonne/year of benzene.

(Shell Chemicals’ mixed-feed technology gives it the ability to cracker very light to very heavy feedstock, including hydrowax. The hydrowax is being supplied from a modified hydrocracker on Bukom Island in Singapore, where the cracker is located. Shell’s MEG plant and the rest of Singapore’s petrochemicals industry – and where the new investments will take place – is just across the water in neighbouring Jurong Island)

Van Beurden was keen to stress that SEPC’s surplus products are all being sold on long-term contracts.

But Singapore is clearly looking to use the new complex as a basis for much greater and wider value-addition: The SEPC complex was expected to lead to a new wave of high-value downstream investments in Singapore, the country’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a speech to mark the official opening.