Wednesday, October 10, 2018

New Polypropylene Production Facility Boosts Investment in Major European Port

Logistical Location and Energy Efficiency Essential Components of New Plant
Shipping News Feature
BELGIUM – The Austrian petrochemical company Borealis has announced that it is to build a new production plant on its existing site in Kallo, in the Antwerp port area. The propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant will use the very latest technology in terms of sustainable production and energy efficiency and is scheduled to start up in the first half of 2022. In July Borealis implemented the international energy management standard ISO 50001, assisted by DNV GL in an initiative which took 4 years to come to fruition, and says it will now be able to cut over 360,000 tonnes of CO2 annually.

This latest scheme will see the building of a new PDH plant which will convert propane into propylene. The propylene in turn can be used to make polypropylene, a plastic with many applications which is employed in among others the car industry. The planned PDH plant aims to have a targeted production capacity of 750,000 tonnes per year, which Borealis says will make it one of the largest and most efficient facilities in the world.

Borealis says that its Kallo location was selected due to its logistical position, its experience in propylene production and handling and the synergies with the existing PDH unit. Borealis will use Honeywell UOP’s Oleflex™ technology for the new plant. Propylene is one of the most important building blocks for the entire chemical industry, in which the plastic polypropylene has strong growth figures worldwide.

The plant will make use of a recyclable, chromium-free catalyst which should reduce energy consumption, waste production and CO2 emissions. The investment is supported by the Flemish government which has granted €4 million in strategic ecological support to the project. The plan is now going ahead after two years of planning, including an original conceptual study followed by Front End Engineering Design (FEED) study which was completed in June.

Oiltanking Antwerp Gas Terminal which has ship to shore facilities, will be the long-term logistics partner for the handling of propylene as well as the raw material propane, and will construct a new, purpose built 135,000 m3 propane storage tank. The hydrogen that is a by-product of the dehydrogenation process will be sold to Air Liquide under a long-term agreement. Alfred Stern, Borealis Chief Executive, commented:

“This important investment in our European assets fully supports our strategy to be a leading supplier of innovative polypropylene solutions and propylene to our customers in Europe. We are showing our commitment to support the growth of our customers in Europe and strengthen our position as the leading supplier whilst increasing our integration economics and supply reliability. In addition, we are currently studying the feasibility of various capacity increases for polypropylene based on this additional propylene capability.”

Last month, Sea-Mol, a joint venture by Mol Chemical Tankers and Sea-Invest, announced that it had chosen Antwerp for construction of a tank storage terminal representing an investment of €300 to 400 million. Port Authority CEO Jacques Vandermeiren, said:

"After the recent announcement by Sea-Mol, this decision by a leading player such as Borealis once more confirms that we as the largest chemical cluster in Europe have a strong attraction for international investors. The mega-investment can only reinforce this position and thus make an essential contribution towards a sustainable future for our port."

Photo: Borealis Kallo, Belgium