LONDON (ICIS)--INEOS is looking to build a 750,000 tonne/year propane dehydrogenation (PDH) in Europe, with Antwerp, Belgium, as a potential location, the Switzerland-headquartered chemicals producer said on Monday.
The firm also announced it is to expand the capacities of crackers at its complexes in Grangemouth, UK, and Rafnes, Norway, to more than 1m tonnes/year each.
“These are three major new projects. Collectively, it’s the equivalent of building a new world scale cracker in Europe,” said Jim Ratcliffe, chairman of INEOS.
ICIS had reported on INEOS exploring options to build a PDH European plant in May.
INEOS said the construction of the PDH plant and the expansion of cracker capacity would allow it to “increase our self-sufficiency in all key olefin products” as well as supporting its derivative business and polymer plants in the region.
“All our assets will benefit from our capability to import competitive raw materials from the US and the rest of the world,” said Gerd Franken, CEO of INEOS Olefins & Polymers North.
INEOS produces almost 4.5m tonnes of ethylene and propylene across Europe, the company said, while remaining a large buyer of ethylene and propylene in the region, something it aims to correct with the investments announced.
INEOS said the cracker expansions would add nearly 900,000 tonnes/year of ethylene capacity.
“These projects represent the first substantial investments in the European chemicals industry for many years. It has only been made possible because of INEOS massive $2bn investment in our Dragon Ships programme which allows us to import ethane and LPG [liquefied petroleum gases] from the US in huge quantities,” Ratcliffe concluded.
INEOS's current ethylene and propylene capacities in Europe total 2.5m tonnes/year and 845,000 tonnes/year, respectively, according to the ICIS Plants and Projects database.
The firm's Grangemouth cracker has the capacity to produce 800,000 tonnes/year of ethylene, while the Rafnes facility has an annual capacity of 620,000 tonnes/year.
Other INEOS’ ethylene production facilities in Europe include two crackers in Cologne, Germany, with production capacities of production of 660,000 tonnes/year and 450,000 tonnes/year.
The company’s current European propylene capacities include one plant in Grangemouth – with annual production capacity of 190,000 tonnes – while a plant in Cologne has the capacity to produce 655,000 tonnes/year.
US investment bank Jefferies said in May capital expenditure for a PDH plant of the scale mulled by INEOS could surpass $1bn.
INEOS did not provide financial details on Monday.
(adds current production capacities, potential capex from paragraph 10)
Pictured above: Antwerp harbour in Belgium, with view of industrial area. INEOS said Antwerp could be the location for its PDH plant