IRPC ’13: Ethane cracking enables niche producers to fill propylene gap

By Ben DuBose
Online Editor

NEW DELHI -- The ongoing trend toward increased ethane cracking is offering niche petrochemical producers the opportunity to fill the propylene gap via on-purpose technologies, an official with KBR said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the International Refining and Petrochemical Conference (IRPC), Sourabh Mukherjee said North American shale gas was a “game changer” with a huge amount of global interest.

At least seven mega-projects were awarded in the past year, he said, and the trend for new plants or revamps is expected to continue, especially with the US price ratios of gas to crude oil at historic lows.

“There are going to be a lot more ethane crackers, so we don’t see a lot of propylene produced in the foreseeable future from ethylene plants,” said Mr. Mukherjee, head of KBR’s basic engineering design team in India.

“That paints a very interesting scenario for how to fill the yearly propylene gap of 42 million metric tons.”

One option is propylene recovered as a by-product from naphtha crackers and refineries, both of which are common in the Asia-Pacific region.

An increasingly popular option, however, is niche catalytic processes, such as on-purpose propylene technologies.

“This gives a huge opportunity for niche producers to come up with solutions to meet huge propylene demand worldwide,” he said. That’s where we introduce our technology.”

Further details on KBR’s specific process technologies can be found at the company’s website.

Stay tuned to for further IRPC coverage, including our running Day 1 blog with news stories, images and videos.

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