Ineos AG, Rolle, Switzerland, has completed operational trials for the planned restart of a previously shuttered second manufacturing unit at its gas-cracking operations in Grangemouth, Scotland.
Mothballed in 2008 amid its inability to operate at full capacity, Train 2 of the Grangemouth ethylene cracker has undergone a series of rigorous recommissioning trials to prepare for the arrival of price-advantaged US shale ethane supplies due to arrive via tanker at its new Grangemouth import terminal during this year’s second half, Ineos said.
The US shale-sourced ethane will be used as supplementary feed to enable the Grangemouth ethylene plant to run at increased rates at a time when North Sea supplies are dwindling, the company said.
Combined, Grangemouth’s two crackers have a total ethylene production capacity of 1 million tonnes/year.
“With the successful completion of the Train 2 trial, we are now in great shape to receive shale gas from the US and to finally run the Grangemouth plant at full rates,” said Gordon Milne, operations director for Ineos Grangemouth.
The company did not disclose a firm timeline for Train 2’s official restart.
Announcement of Train 2’s recommissioning follows Ineos’ £450-million investment to build an import terminal and storage tank to store and process ethane from shale gas as part of a survival plan for its 210,000-b/d Grangemouth refinery which involves transforming the plant into a shale gas-based operation in order for it to become a profitable business again (OGJ Online, July 17, 2014).
Ineos previously entered deals to secure US shale gas supplies for its European cracking operations with Consol Energy Inc., Pittsburgh, Range Resources-Appalachia LLC, and Enterprise Products Partners LP (OGJ Online, June 12, 2014; Feb. 17, 2014).
Most recently, the company entered a deal for the long-term supply of US ethane supplies beginning in mid-2017 to ExxonMobil Chemical Ltd.’s 830,000-tpy Fife ethylene plant (FEP) at Mossmorran on Scotland’s eastern coast near Braefoot Bay, about 25 miles north of Edinburgh (OGJ Online, Nov. 9, 2015).
Part of Ineos’ strategy to bring US shale gas economics to Europe, the company’s overall ethane supply project includes the following:
• Contracts to acquire gas from the Marcellus shale in western Pennsylvania.
• Connection to the 300-mile Mariner East pipeline to bring gas to the Marcus Hook deepwater terminal near Philadelphia.
• Design and commissioning of eight Dragon-class ships for transatlantic gas shipments.
• Construction of an import terminal, including a 60,000-cu m ethane storage tank with liquid gas storage capacity of 33,000 tonnes, as well as docks and a pipeline network for gas reception.