“We are currently assessing several locations for a new plant, including a number of INEOS sites at the Port of Antwerp,” explains Tom Crotty, director at INEOS Belgium. It’s no secret that Antwerp holds great potential, being the biggest petrochemical cluster in Europe and home to a major Northern European hub of pipelines for the transit of crude oil, naphtha, ethylene, propylene, natural gas and more.
Each year, the new INEOS factory would produce up to 750,000 metric tons of propylene, one of the most important basic chemicals, to be transferred to the British company’s various plants across the globe. Today, INEOS boasts an annual production capacity of nearly 4.5 million metric tons of ethylene and propylene in Europe, but the chemical company is also one of the main purchasers of these products.
“Our activities are expanding more and more,” Crotty adds. “Consequently, we need to buy a lot of propylene, as we can’t produce everything ourselves yet. We want to resolve that scarcity by building an additional plant capable of meeting our own consumption demands.”
The new project is part of a European investment plan and accounts for an investment amount of up to EUR 900 million. “Antwerp is definitely our favorite location,” Crotty confirms. “The port’s import and export capacity is excellent and a major part of our chemicals consumption is situated at our nearby plants in Geel and Lillo.”
As the final choice of where to locate the plant hasn’t been made yet, INEOS is currently performing an economic analysis, taking fiscal support measures into account as well. By the end of the year, the final decision should be reached – with the prospect of having the new plant operational within three to four years.
Should Antwerp be chosen as the sweet spot for INEOS’ new base, this would mean a major addition to a series of recent investments at the petrochemical cluster. As such, German chemical concern Lanxess is channeling EUR 35 million into its Antwerp sites. Last year, its compatriot BASF also announced a joint investment with Dutch sector peer Avantium to build a new production plant at the Port of Antwerp. And meanwhile, Austrian chemical firm Borealis is investigating the construction of a new propylene factory at the port as well.