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Shell project meets Asia's growing demand for raw materials

04
May '10
The site is already supplying products to Asian growth markets and to manufacturers in Singapore. It is a cornerstone of Shell's strategy to focus on growth and profitable downstream markets.

“Demand for petrochemicals is growing at around 4-5% per year in Asia,” says Iain Lo, Shell Chemicals Vice President for New Business Development & Ventures. “So being in Singapore positions us very well to capture that growth.”

Output from the site includes mono-ethylene glycol (MEG), the raw material needed to make everything from plastic packaging to polyester clothing. It has the capacity to meet nearly 6% of Asia's demand for this raw material, or enough to make almost 7 billion polyester shirts a year.

The Shell Eastern Petrochemicals Complex (SEPC) investment project — building new chemicals plants and upgrading a refinery — was a huge engineering feat that involved more than 15,000 people from more than 20 countries at the peak of construction. It took a crane with the biggest capacity ever used in Singapore to lower steel reactors — at around 1,400 tonnes each is as heavy as seven jumbo jets — into the heart of the new MEG plant which produces the raw material essential to make polyester and packaging.

Most efficient production
The MEG plant uses the new award-winning technology developed by Shell, called OMEGA (Only MEG Advantage). It is a fully catalytic process for the conversion of ethylene into MEG instead of a conventional thermal process and produces more MEG per tonne of ethylene than any other technology in the industry. This process saves shipping and storage costs as it creates virtually none of the other raw materials that come from thermal conversion. It also consumes about one-fifth less steam and generates about 30% less waste water.

Capital costs for the new MEG plant are considerably less than for a conventional MEG plant with the same capacity.

In addition, the refinery and petrochemicals plant uses nearly 100% wastewater treated and recycled by Singapore's national water company. Water is used for cooling and in the reactions to turn raw material into valuable products.

Squeezing the most out of every barrel of oil
The complex is designed to perform well through the economic cycle. The refinery is integrated with the chemicals plant on Bukom Island off the coast of Singapore and linked up by a series of pipelines to chemicals plants on Jurong Island. They share the same infrastructure.

The refinery can handle a wide range of crude oil, which it processes into different fuels and petrochemicals raw materials. It pumps some of these materials to the new ethylene cracker built next to it for further processing. The cracker converts these into other products, including ethylene, propylene and benzene. Pipelines on the seabed — each 4.5 kilometres (2.8 miles) long — connect the cracker to the new MEG plant and other customers on Jurong Island. Ethylenecan be cooled down to a liquid for export from a new jetty or stored in a cryogenic terminal.


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