Shell Starts Up New Singapore Plants

Shell Wednesday announced that it has more than doubled the production of high-purity ethylene oxide (HPEO) and ethoxylates at its site on Jurong Island, Singapore.

The company has successfully started up a new purification unit with a capacity of 140,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of HPEO. A new world-scale production unit today can manufacture 140,000 tpa of ethoxylates. Shell delivers HPEO through an ethylene oxide pipeline grid to ‘over-the-fence’ customers and its own expanded ethoxylation operations on Jurong Island. Feedstock for the new HPEO plant comes from Shell’s ethylene oxide/mono-ethylene glycol plant, which is integrated with the company’s ethylene cracker through to its largest fully-owned refinery on Pulau Bukom.

“The demand for HPEO and alcohol ethoxylates in Asia has been rising over the years. These two projects are part of Shell’s strategy to serve the growing needs of existing and new customers locally and in the region,” said Graham van’t Hoff, Executive Vice-President for Shell Chemicals.

More than six million man-hours went into both projects, which were completed without disruption to existing operations. Some 400 kilometres of cable, 60 kilometres of piping, and 180 pieces of equipment (including columns, reactors, vessels, heat exchangers) were installed across 35,000 square metres of land (about the size of seven football fields), over two years.

Singapore continues to be an important refining and petrochemicals hub for Shell. The two new petrochemicals production units on Jurong Island further strengthen Shell’s portfolio of world-class manufacturing facilities, and boost its chemicals footprint in Asia. The availability of both ethylene oxide and propylene oxide (PO) at the same location offers an advantageous value proposition for specialty chemical companies, who commonly use both of these intermediates to produce value-added products.

The HPEO and ethoxylates projects are the latest successes in a string of investments over the last few years, aimed at strengthening Shell’s largest oil-chemicals integrated site spanning Singapore’s Bukom and Jurong islands.

In 2013, Shell increased polyols capacity by more than 100,000 tpa and added new grades to its product offering. In December 2014, it took 100% control of Ellba Eastern, the then styrene monomer and propylene oxide (PO) joint venture with BASF. The move enabled integration with and optimisation of Shell’s existing assets on Jurong Island in a difficult cost environment, and the additional volume of PO allowed the company to make the most of its polyols assets there. Most recently, Shell debottlenecked its Singapore ethylene cracker on Pulau Bukom and increased the capacity of olefins and aromatics by more than 20% to over one million tonnes a year.

Beyond bolstering its own competitive position in the Asian chemicals market, Shell’s investments in Jurong Island have helped to attract millions of dollars of foreign investments from specialty chemicals players, supporting the country’s move into this growing niche sector.

“We are pleased to have companies such as Shell partnering us in the development of the energy and chemicals cluster in Singapore,” said Mr Yeoh Keat Chuan, Managing Director of the Singapore Economic Development Board. “These new facilities have brought about new investments in the manufacturing of specialty chemicals on Jurong Island, which creates good jobs for Singaporeans. We look forward to writing the next chapter of our chemicals growth story with Shell.”

Derived from ethylene oxide, HPEO is used in a wide range of household and industrial applications. Its largest outlet is the ethoxylation industry, which processes HPEO and alcohol into alcohol ethoxylates. These are key ingredients for a variety of products, such as detergents and personal care items like shampoo and body wash.

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