Port of Antwerp Supports Major Petchem Investments

23.01.2015 -

The Port of Antwerp continues to attract petrochemical investments, the operating company says in its annual report for 2014. To underscore its position as an integrated cluster, the Port Authority has set up a special unit to offer the oil and chemical industries support in setting up their business there. Toward stimulating the physical renewal of infrastructure at the site, the authority's management says it plans to continue to offer state-of-the-art facilities, to enable companies to "grow more rapidly than direct European competitors.

In 2014, Antwerp's report says the port's customers "announced record levels of investment." Oil and petrochemical giants ExxonMobil and Total, for example, plan to make "huge strategic investments." At mid-year, ExxonMobil announced a $1 billion investment in its refinery. In October, it built a Delayed Coker Unit for converting heavy, high-sulfur oil residues into cleaner oil products and to produce transport fuel such as diesel and fuel oil for the maritime industry. Over the past decade the US group has invested more than $2 billion in Antwerp, the authority says.

France's Total also announced a €1 billion modernisation program for its Antwerp, its largest refining and petrochemical platform in Europe. Projects include a new refining complex primarily tor converting heavy fuel oil into desulfurized diesel and domestic heating oil to meet increased demand toward more environmentally-friendly products. Start-up is planned for 2016.

BASF Antwerp last year started up a new 155,000 t/y extraction plant, its second in Europe after its Ludwigshafen main site. Germany's Evonik also chose Antwerp to build the world's first commercial plant for an innovative feedstuff additive specially developed for aquaculture of shrimps and other crustaceans. The company is also building a 100,000 t/y1-butene production plant and expanding its methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) production capacity by up to 150,000 t.

US industrial gases producer Praxair announced plans for its second air separation plant and an extension of its pipeline system at Antwerp to increase supply of oxygen and nitrogen to companies in the port. Another industrial gases producer, Air Liquide, is spending around €50 million to double its carbon monoxide (CO) capacity. The CO will be supplied to BASF for its MDI production.

Germany's Lanxess last year started up a 90,000 t/y polyamide plant in Lillo, on the left bank of the River Scheldt, at an investment of € 75 million. Also, Ineos Phenol Belgium and Antwerp's logistics company ADPO signed a cooperation agreement, which will give ADPO water access to the River Scheldt via the existing Ineos jetty and connect the company's site to the European railway network.

In August, Vienna-based Borealis agreed to acquire DuPont Holding Netherlands' 67% shareholding in Speciality Polymers Antwerp, emphasizing its growth strategy for polyolefins and further strengthening Antwerp's position in this specialized business. Also in 2014, ADPO opened the first LNG tank station for trucks. By 2016, it barges in the port should be able to bunker with LNG from a fixed station, the Authority says.

US chemicals group 3M last year also announced plans for a new €9 million, solvent-free glue production line in Zwijndrecht, part of €20 mlllion capital spending investment plan. Due to a shortage of capacity in the US - but also because of the area's proximity to scientific knowledge and expertise, the Port Authority says - 3M chose to locate the new facility at Zwijndrecht. The new line will have a capacity of several thousand tonnes.