Shell Pledges $4 Billion Annual Spend on Chemicals
Royal Dutch Shell said it will invest in its chemicals business between $3 billion and $4 billion every year through the next decade as it aims to expand into selected base, derivative and performance chemicals.
The company held a meeting on Jun 4-5 to update investors on its strategy and financial outlook to 2025 as it transitions to a lower-carbon future. CEO Ben van Beurden told investors that the company has reshaped itself to focus on value over volumes with its strategic themes now split into three categories: Core Upstream; Leading Transition; and Emerging Power.
The integrated gas, chemicals and oil products businesses will form the Leading Transition category. Beurden said its downstream operations continue to deliver strong financial performance due to highly integrated refining, trading and marketing operations, as well as competitive growth in its chemicals business. The company still expects strong demand growth for chemicals and plastics despite a growing move toward recycling.
More investment in chemicals will grow cash flow from operations by more than 50% to 2025, Shell said. Last year, the company doubled capacity at its Nanhai joint venture complex in Guangdong with China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC), and at the start of 2019, it announced the start-up of a fourth alpha olefins unit with a capacity of 425,000 t/y in Geismar, Louisiana, USA.
Shell is also currently building an ethylene/PE complex near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, using low-cost ethane from the Marcellus and Utica basins. The PE plant will have a capacity of 1.6 million t/y when it starts up sometime after 2020.
Other potential projects include building a monoethylene glycol plant at Geismar, further expansion at Nanhai along with installing a cracker and derivatives complex in Iraq. Shell signed a deal back in 2015 to build a petrochemicals complex in Basra, Iraq, but there has been no further news on the project’s progress to date.