Shell Studies Saudi Catalyst Recycling Plant

27.11.2019 -

Shell Overseas Services and Advanced Metallurgical Group (AMG) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) to explore the feasibility of building a spent catalyst recycling plant in Jubail Industrial City, Saudi Arabia.

The facility would reclaim metals by recycling the spent residue upgrading catalysts generated by refineries in Saudi Arabia and the surrounding region. These catalysts help refineries upgrade the bottom of the oil barrel into more valuable products, including feedstocks for petrochemicals production.

“This MoU reflects Shell’s interest in growing its presence in Saudi Arabia and serving its clients locally and regionally,” said Andy Gosse, president of Shell Catalysts & Technologies. “New global fuel regulations, combined with the growing trend of crude oil to chemicals production, are leading refiners to develop sustainable waste management plans for their spent catalyst. We look to have meaningful opportunities to build strong relationships with local and international participants.”

Last month, Shell Catalysts & Technologies agreed to form a joint venture with AMG for catalyst reclamation and recycling. To be called Shell & AMG Recycling, the JV will operate outside of North America.

AMG chairman and CEO Heinz Schimmelbusch said the company expects significant spent-catalyst volume growth as a consequence of the International Maritime Organization 2020 fuel sulfur regulations. “The end-to-end option that will be available to oil refineries will represent an outstanding CO2 reduction opportunity,” he said.

The process employed by Shell & AMG Recycling extracts critical materials, including vanadium in the form of ferrovanadium, from spent catalysts. Ferrovanadium is an alloy which increases the strength of steel and is primarily used in infrastructure applications such as rebar or girders. By using reclaimed ferrovanadium, steel manufacturers benefit from a low CO2 alternative compared to sourcing vanadium through mining.

In separate news, Shell announced it has successfully made high-end chemicals using a liquid feedstock made from plastic waste at its Norco plant in Louisiana, USA.

The company said the pyrolysis process advances its ambition to use 1 million t/y of plastic waste in its global chemical plants by 2025.