SABIC to convert UK naphtha cracker for imported shale ethane from US

SABIC is modifying its Wilton cracker in the UK to enable it to use ethane feedstock imported from the US, the company announced on Friday.

The company is aiming to complete the project by 2016.

SABIC had said in 2013 that it was studying the possibility of converting the naphtha cracker. The nameplate capacity is 865,000 tpy of ethylene, 400,000 tpy of propylene and 100,000 tpy of butadiene.

SABIC did not specify the level of investment or whether it has supply deals lined up with US companies. The decision to import US ethane for a European cracker follows similar moves by INEOS in Norway and the UK and Borealis in Sweden.

“This project reflects SABIC’s strong determination to take advantage of cutting-edge technology in creating new sources of competitive feedstock and energy that will allow the company to continue to build a sustainable business and deliver on its long-term vision,” said Yousef Al-Benyan, executive vice president for chemicals at SABIC.

"Our long-term focus is to have a business that stays profitable not only in the European region, but across our global markets," he added.

Work is already underway to build a cryogenic tank at SABIC's North Tees site in the UK as part of a gas import terminal.

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