Ineos reveals a major European expansion programme with a plan to increase capacity at Grangemouth

Courtney Goldsmith
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First US Shale Gas Arrives In The UK
Ships deliver large amounts of ethane from the US to Ineos' plant in Scotland (Source: Getty)

Ineos is planning a big European expansion programme that will include increasing production at its Grangemouth plant in Scotland.

The petrochemicals firm is increasing the ethylene capacity of its crack facilities at Grangemouth in Scotland and Rafnes in Norway to over 1m tonnes each, adding up to 900,000 tonnes of ethylene to its overall production capacity.

Ineos is also looking at sites including Antwerp in Belgium to build a new world-scale propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant to produce 750,000 tonnes of propylene a year.

"These projects represent the first substantial investments in the European chemicals industry for many years," said Jim Ratcliffe, billionaire founder and chairman of the company.

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Grangemouth is Ineos' largest manufacturing site, and its ethylene cracker is one of only four of its kind in Europe.

Ethane crackers take ethane, a component of natural gas, and process or "crack" it into ethylene.

Ineos currently produces nearly 4.5m tonnes of ethylene and propylene across Europe, and these three major projects will significantly increase the quantities it produces in Europe.

"Ethylene is a key building block for the petrochemical industry and thereby critical to supporting the manufacturing industries in the UK," the firm's website states. "From the construction industry through to automotive, high-tech and high-spec industries, the ethylene manufactured by us in Scotland is used in almost every aspect of modern life."

Ineos has invested $2bn into a programme that allows it to import ethane from the US in "huge quantities" while shale gas production on the other side of the pond rockets.

"All our assets will benefit from our capability to import competitive raw materials from the US and the rest of the world," said Gerd Franken, Ineos' chief executive of olefins and polymers north.

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