Materials supplier Borealis AG is studying the feasibility of significantly increasing the capacity of its polypropylene plants in Europe.
The Belgian company currently is moving to the front-end and engineering design (FEED) phase for construction of its planned propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant at the existing Borealis production site in Kallo, Belgium.
Any production increases would take full advantage of the additional propylene supply coming from the PDH plant.
“The synergies with the envisaged PDH in Kallo will ensure a reliable and integrated value chain from feedstock to customers,” said Alfred Stern, Borealis executive vice president polyolefins.
For the next nine months, the company will be assessing the potential debottlenecking of its existing European PP assets in Belgium. Final investment decisions are expected to be taken in fourth quarter of 2018, with any capacity increases coming on stream starting in 2020.
“In Europe, polypropylene supply is not keeping up with increasing demand. With the market tightening and the continuous application expansion for PP materials, additional investment is needed to ensure a reliable platform for continuous, long-term growth in polypropylene,” said Maria Ciliberti, Borealis vice president marketing and new business development..
While the new PDH plant represents another significant European investment for Borealis, it is not the only company looking to expand petrochemical capacity in Europe. Another is DowDuPont Inc., which said in May that it will build a 450,000-metric-ton-per-year polyolefins plant in the region to serve the high-pressure pipe market. The DowDuPont facility will be the first new polyolefins plant Western Europe has seen since the late 2000s.
The discussion began under Dow Chemical Co., prior to its merger with DuPont Co.
And in June, Ineos also announced plans to construct a world-scale PDH unit in Europe. This plant will produce 750,000 tonnes per annum of propylene for Ineos units across the continent. Ineos currently produces nearly 4.5 million tonnes of ethylene and propylene across Europe, but remains the largest buyer of ethylene and propylene in the region.
Several possible locations are currently being considered including a number of Ineos sites at Antwerp in Belgium. 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.
For Borealis, the added capacity would support the increasing demand in flexible and rigid packaging applications, one of the company's key markets.
"A reliable supply is also needed to support the automotive industry, for which PP is the fastest growing polymer material,” Ciliberti said.