Versalis to Temporarily Restart Porto Marghera Cracker

27.01.2015 -

Versalis, the polymers subsidiary of Italian energy group ENI, plans to temporarily restart its cracker at Porto Marghera, near Venice, in mid-February to provide an interim supply of ethylene and propylene for Shell, the Italian group has confirmed.

Shell's 910,000 tonne/year cracker at Moerdijk in the Netherlands, has been down since early October, due to a leakage. The cracker is not due to be restarted before this year's third quarter; however, the olefin feedstocks are needed to supply its derivatives production, which is now restarted.

It is as yet unclear how long the Italian facility, which can turn out 490,000 t/y of ethylene and 245,000 t/y of propylene, will be kept on stream. Trade unions have been advised of a time frame between 12 and 18 months.

Due to oversupply and the general malaise in the Italian market and over opposition from the unions and the Italian government, ENI said in September Porto Marghera cracker would be shuttered permanently.

Versalis CEO Daniele Ferrare said workers would be employed to dismantle the cracker before it was refitted to produce oil drilling chemicals, lubricants and plasticisers from renewable feedstocks.

While cheap naphtha meanwhile has made keeping Porto Marghera look more attractive, ENI stressed that plans for a renewables hub, similar to that planned at Porto Torres in Sardinian, remain unchanged.