Shell's new polymer polyols plant at Pernis now on-stream

Shell Nederland Chemie (SNC) BV's new polymer polyols plant at Pernis in the Netherlands came on stream in late May with the first commercial product expected to be available later this summer. The plant, one of the largest of its kind in Europe, will produce 50,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of high quality high solids styrene acrylonitrile (SAN) co-polymer polyol designed to meet the growing needs of furniture, bedding and automobile manufacturers. It marks another step in the expansion of polyols and propylene oxide capacity and follows last year's increased output from SNC's Pernis plant and the start-up of a new polyol line and a new SMPO unit at Ellba Eastern (Singapore), a 50:50 joint venture between Shell and BASF. This investment will continue over the next two years with a 550,000 tpa styrene monomer and 250,000 tpa propylene oxide plant and 135,000 tpa polyols plant planned for the Nanhai petrochemicals complex (a joint venture with CNOOC Petrochemicals Investment Limited), which is expected to come onstream by the end of 2005. These projects will increase PO assets operated by Shell chemicals companies to a total capacity of 1,130,000 tonnes per year. Olivier Thorel, global business manager, PO and urethane chemicals, Shell Chemicals Limited says: "The new plant at Pernis will service a global market, feeding Shell chemicals companies' network of blending units in the Netherlands, United Arab Emirates and Jordan to meet the needs of customers. Once it is in full production, the plant will make Shell among the top polyol producers, serving customers in all regions of the world, a significant change from a few years ago. These investments underline Shell chemicals companies' leading role in the ever-evolving global polyurethane industry". At its peak some 300 construction workers and 80 engineers worked on site. The finished plant stands seven storeys high and is designed to be energy efficient with reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Simultaneously, production has ceased at the existing 12,000 tpa styrene-based polymer polyol unit at Pernis. The facility will be decommissioned and existing customers will be supplied from the new plant.

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