LONDON (ICIS)--INEOS Oxide is planning to build a vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) plant with annual production capacity of 300,000 tonnes in Europe with capital expenditure (capex) between €100m and €500m, a spokesperson for the Switzerland-headquartered petrochemicals major said on Tuesday.
The spokesperson added the engineering studies being carried out at the moment would be finalised "during the course" of 2018, when the company would announce the final location for the plant.
It expects to start up the plant in 2020 or 2021 at the latest, it added.
The company is considering to locate the new VAM plant at one of its three petrochemical sites – Saltend in the UK’s northern city of Hull, Koln in Germany or Antwerp in Belgium.
“[On capex] I can’t be more precise [at the moment]. It will depend upon the solution we decide to take [both in terms of] site and technology – a lot of considerations have to be made,” the spokesperson said.
"As mentioned, the amount of the investment depends on the outcome of the work we are carrying out now but this will range from €100 plus million upwards."
INEOS had said earlier on Tuesday the rationale behind the new VAM plant was the fact that Europe is short of that product, with imports “from remote locations” helping to ease the shortage.
Chemical trade figures from the European statistical agency Eurostat consistently show VAM’s demand in the region is mostly covered by imports, which largely outnumber exports.
VAM is a key building block for a wide range of industrial applications like paints, windscreens, films, adhesives as well as for production of polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
INEOS said the three locations considered for the project had access to feedstock ethylene through pipeline or terminal supply, as well as low costs to bring VAM’s other key raw material, acetic acid.
"Our VAM project represents a further major investment for INEOS and will commit the business to a spend in the hundreds of millions of euros, whether it is a new build, or a revamp of the former VAM production facility in Saltend, Hull," said Graham Beesley, INEOS Oxide’s CEO.
“The market is at present heavily reliant on imports from deep sea locations, and our new capacity is designed to plug the gap and improve supply dependability to our customer base." Additional reporting by Peter Gerrard
(adds updated capex figure, start up dates in paragraph 1-6)
Pictured: INEOS' site in Antwerp, Belgium, one of the locations considered for the VAM plant together with Saltend (UK) and Koln (Germany). Picture source: INEOS