Thailand’s PTTGC pursues feedstock flexibility with new project

Author: Pearl Bantillo

2021/02/08

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Thailand's petrochemical major PTT Global Chemical is looking at increasing the share of propane in its feedstock mix under a new project coming on stream two years from now.

The company is investing $165m for its Olefins 2 Modification Project, which is slated for commercial operations in the first quarter of 2023.

Its No 2 cracker can produce 515,000 tonnes/year of ethylene and 295,000 tonnes/year of propylene, according to ICIS Supply and Demand Database.

South Korea’s Samsung Engineering will carry out the modification under an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract signed with PTTGC on 22 January, a company spokesperson told ICIS.

Following the modification, the proportion of PTTGC crackers' propane and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) consumption will increase by 10% “depending on the market prices at that time”, the spokesperson said.

Supply of propane will be procured from both internal and import sources.

The new project aims “to increase the competitiveness of the company in both the old and new normal periods” and “to be able to manage the entire supply chain to be more efficient and flexible in the use of feedstock”, the spokesperson said.

PTTGC is in the process of diversifying feedstocks for petrochemical production, with a new naphtha cracker due to come on stream within the first quarter of this year.

The cracker - the company's fifth - will raise the group's ethylene capacity by 500,000 tonnes/year  to 2.876m tonnes/year, according to ICIS data.

According to market sources, the cracker will commence production soon, which will make the company a regular exporter of ethylene.

PTTGC currently imports ethylene for polyethylene (PE) production and to supply domestic customers.

The new cracker should raise the share of naphtha in PTTGC’s feedstock mix to 24%, from an average of about 18% in 2020, the company said in a presentation to investors dated 19 January 2021.

*ORP or Olefins Reconfiguration Project, also known as Map Ta Phut Retrofit project refers to the new naphtha cracker

Source: PTTGC

Unlike most cracker operators in Asia, PTTGC relies on gas for the bulk of its petrochemical production feedstock instead of naphtha.

In 2018-2019, the share of gas to the total feedstock mix stood at 88%, based on PTTGC’s investor roadshow presentation dated 19 January 2021.

For the whole of 2021, the company is projecting a 10% growth in production volume from 11.27m tonnes from value chain extension.

Source: PTTGC

The additional volume will come from its new 200,000 tonne/year propylene oxide (PO) and 130,000 tonne/year polyols plants, which started commercial operations in December 2020, and the new naphtha cracker, according to PTTGC.

Operating rates across its refineries, aromatics and polyolefins plants are expected to exceed 100%, higher compared with 2020 levels, while capacity utilization for olefins will slip to 95%.

Additional reporting by Yeow Pei Lin

Focus article by Pearl Bantillo