Ineos Preparing to Restart Idled Cracker Train

30.03.2016 -

With the first shipments of liquefied shale gas-derived ethane due to arrive in Scotland sometime in the second half of 2016 – the most recent estimate is for an August delivery – Ineos is preparing to restart one of the two trains of its gas cracker at Grangemouth.

The currently Swiss-based petrochemicals group said the new feed would supplement the cracker’s dwindling North Sea gas reserves and allow increased output. Previously, the facility produced around 700,000 t of ethylene per year but according to reports from Scotland, it is capable of producing nearly 1 million t/y.

Ineos mothballed one of the trains in 2008, at a time when the economic crisis caused scores of European olefins and polyolefins facilities to be shuttered, but with the cheaper US gas soon available, the facility is planned to get a new lease on life.

“When US shale gas finally arrives here in the autumn, this plant will move into the premier league of European petrochemical plants,” said Gordon Milne, Ineos Grangemouth operations director. “All the parts of the jigsaw are finally coming together. We are now in great shape to receive shale gas from the US and to finally run the Grangemouth plant at full rate.”

“Bringing the site back into profitability is the best way to secure our future here in Scotland,” added John McNally, CEO of Ineos Grangemouth.We know that ethane from US shale gas has transformed US manufacturing and we are now a step closer to seeing this advantage being brought here.”

Ineos noted that its new import terminal at Grangemouth will also benefit the Fife Ethylene Plant, a 50:50 joint venture of ExxonMobil and Shell. The company recently signed an agreement with the two oil and petrochemicals groups to feed ethane gas through an existing pipeline to their 830,000 t/y facility at Mossmorran on the Fife coast from mid-2017.

This, Ineos said, “will also ensure the competitiveness of an additional major manufacturing facility in Scotland and help secure skilled jobs in the long run.”

A 865,000 t/y ethylene cracker operated by SABIC at Wilton in northern England and connected by pipeline to Grangemouth is in the process of being converted to run on shale-derived ethylene. According to reports, the project is due to be completed this year.

Scotland’s government meanwhile has approved the construction and operation of a gas-fired combined heat and power (CHP) plant at BP’s Kinneil Terminal in Grangemouth, adjacent to the Grangemouth petrochemical complex.

The BP facility processes around 40% of the North Sea crude oil production which is brought to the site via the Forties Pipeline System (FPS). Ineos also draws product from the FPS.