Ineos Secures €3.5 Billion for “Europe’s Greenest Cracker”

14.02.2023 - Ineos has announced it has secured €3.5 billion in financing for its designated Project One, which is being realized at Lillo in the Port of Antwerp, Belgium, and now expected to go on stream in 2026.

Touted as the biggest investment in the European chemical industry in a decade, one that will set “new environmental standards,” the complex will feature what the UK-managed group calls the region’s “greenest” ethane cracker. This facility with a capacity of 1.45 million t/y (up from the originally announced 1.25 million t/y) will sit alongside three existing polymerization units.

Ineos operates two HDPE plants at Lillo, with capacities of 240,000 t/y and 200,000 t/y respectively, while its PP plant can produce 130,000 t/y. The cracker project, running about two years behind schedule due to the pandemic, also includes a propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant with capacity for 750,000 t/y of propylene.

The new cracker claimed to potentially have “the lowest carbon footprint of all European crackers” is designed to run alternatively on hydrogen. When sufficient volumes of that forward looking fuel are available, the carbon footprint will shrink to zero, the group said. The design supports the addition of a carbon capture facility and electric furnaces in future.

Ineos received the environmental permit for Project One at the beginning of 2022. The Antwerp complex will be linked by pipeline to the chemical producer’s other Belgian locations as well as to ethylene and propylene derivatives units in Central and Northern Europe.

French engineering contractor Technip Energies has already completed the Extended Front End Engineering and Design (FEED) for the cracker and is now supplying proprietary equipment. The Paris-based engineering firm has not disclosed the value of its second order but has identified it as a “large contract” worth €250-500 million.

Breaking down details of the financing package, Ineos said the loans are supported by 21 commercial banks, which “validates the strong commercial rationale of the project and its leading environmental characteristics.”

The funds planned to be drawn in stages to support the spend profile of the implementation through to completion comprise €1.5 billion of uncovered debt and €1.2 billion of covered facilities from export credit agencies UKEF, Cesce and SACE. The package also has an €800 million covered tranche of which up to €500 million is guaranteed by Gigaran, a vehicle of the Flemish regional government.

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist