Petrochemical giant Ineos is investing $3.4 billion in the heart of the Belgian industrial port of Antwerp to build a “world-scale” 1.25-million-metric ton-a-year ethane cracker with a propane dehydrogenation (PDH) unit producing 750 kilotonnes per annum (ktpa) of propylene.
The “game-changer” investment, announced by Ineos chairman and founder Jim Ratcliffe, is expected to supply to Europe and is one of the UK company's biggest investments in recent years.
McDermott will supply the technology for the PDH unit, while the company is yet to finalize a technology licensor for its cracker.
The new cracker will be the first to be built in Europe in the past 20 years, with feedstock supplied from imported U.S. shale gas.
“Our investment … is the largest of its kind in Europe for more than a generation and is an important development for the European petrochemical industry,” said Ratcliffe in a Jan. 15 press conference.
Calling for a "competitive" environment in Europe, Ratcliffe said the investment by Ineos would have significant impact on the region's chemicals industry, which he said has "fallen behind enormously" compared to the U.S. and Chinese industries.
"Energy is an issue for Europe and Europe hasn't exactly faced up to that. ... If we were not bringing shale gas from the U.S., we would not be able to justify the economics of this project," he said.
To support the project in Antwerp, Ratcliffe said Ineos will be further investing in its import of shale gas from the U.S. through its transatlantic vessels.
The new complex will be collocated with Ineos' existing sites in Lillo, Antwerp, and will be connected by pipeline to a number of Ineos ethylene and propylene derivatives units in central and northern Europe.