By ANDREW NOEL
Borealis, an Austrian petrochemical
by Abu Dhabi, plans to get the first drops of ethylene
flowing by the end of May from a plant expansion
in the emirate costing
more than $4 billion.
The mechanical works for the Borouge 3 ethane cracker were
signed off eight weeks ago, and since then engineers have
been setting systems for cooling, testing and safety, and
getting the ethane-fed furnaces to an operating temperature
of 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,800 Fahrenheit), CEO Mark Garrett
said in a phone interview.
The expansion project
began in 2009 with a
handshake between Garrett and his counterpart at Borouge
partner Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. in a hotel in Fuschl,
Annual capacity at Borouge, about 155 miles (250 kilometers)
from the city of Abu Dhabi, will more than double to 4.5
million tons from 2 million tons of ethylene and the
derivative polyethylene and polypropylene plastics used in
car parts and packaging.
Now its real, and it will be time for the
small bottle of champagne at home, Garrett said.
First-quarter net income surged 67% from a year earlier to
102 million euros ($140 million) as higher demand for
polyethylene offset a soft market for the
fertilizer business, Vienna-based Borealis said in a
statement. Sales jumped 14% to 2.26 billion euros.
In addition to lower fertilizer demand, unreliable plants
meant Borealis missed out on selling some supplies on the
spot market at higher prices, Garrett said. The company is
also combating weakness in the Europe
an infrastructure market,
where governments have cut spending on such products as
plastic water pipes, Garrett said.
We see a generally better margin environment
across the different
markets, though were not out of the woods
yet, the CEO said.
Borealis has also upgraded plants in Kallo, Belgium, and
Grand-Quevilly, France. An abundance of US shale gas makes it
increasingly likely that supplies will flow into Europe
by ship, Garrett
Borealis is still studying whether it should import US ethane
as an alternative to obtaining the feedstock
from the North Sea, and
such a move would be potentially very
interesting, given the coastal location of its
crackers, the CEO said.