Britain's richest man to make his biggest ever capital investment at £2.4bn

Mary McDougall
Billionaire Jim Ratcliffe topped the Sunday Times rich list this year, having set up Ineos in 1998 and built it up from scratch (Source: Getty)

Chemicals giant Ineos today announced plans to invest £2.4bn to build a new chemical "cracker" and a propane dehydrogenation unit in north west Europe.

The investment will be the biggest ever made by the privately-owned UK group and the largest in Europe’s chemical sector for a generation.

One of the mega plants is intended to be a 1m tonne cracker that will extract ethane from shale gas and turn it into ethylene used in plastics and polyester. It will also be one of the most efficient and environmentally friendly plants of its type in the world, according to the energy firm.

Read more: Ineos loses court battle over Scottish government's fracking 'ban'

The location of the site will be determined soon and is likely to be on the coast of north west Europe. A project team has been assigned to consider options and the project is expected to be completed within four years.

Chairman and founder Jim Ratcliffe said: “Ineos is going from strength to strength. This new investment builds on the huge investment we made in bringing US shale gas to Europe and will ensure the long-term future of our European chemical plants.”

This new investment follows a decision taken by Ineos last year to increase the capacity of its existing crackers.

Ineos official Gerd Franken added: “This new project will increase Ineos self-sufficiency in all key olefin products and give further support to our derivatives business and polymer plants in Europe. All our assets will benefit from our ability to import competitive raw materials from the USA and the rest of the world.”

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