China Expansions: Shell/CNOOC jv starts-up petchem facility; Sinopec Engineering awarded EPC for ExxonMobil project

Shell/CNOOC jv starts-up petchem facility

CNOOC Oil & Petrochemicals Co. (CNOOC) and Shell Nanhai have announced the start-up their 50:50 joint venture, CNOOC and Shell Petrochemicals Company (CSPC), of new units to supply the Chinese market with essential petrochemicals. One new unit is the largest of its type in China, producing up to 630,000 tonnes/year of styrene monomer and 300,000 tonnes/year of propylene oxide.

These chemicals are used in a wide range of applications, from household appliances to packaging and computers. The unit also uses Shell Group’s own SMPO process technology and by making design improvements, it uses significantly less energy, said Shell. It is the second unit of its kind built at the petrochemicals complex in Huizhou, Guangdong Province, China, which is operated by CSPC.

Three further new units process propylene oxide into up to 600,000 tonnes/year of polyols, deploying the Shell Group’s advanced polyols technologies for the first time in China. They supply customers with a range of polyols, including performance products for specialised uses such as coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers, and foams used in bedding, furniture and cars.

The start-up of the new units completes a successful ‘phase two’ expansion of the CSPC complex and follows the commissioning of a second ethylene cracker in 2018. The complex now supplies customers with up to 6 million tonnes/year of intermediate and performance chemicals, including polyols, ethylene glycol, polyethylene and polypropylene.

Plans are already being made for a third phase of expansion at the site. CNOOC, Shell and the Huizhou Government signed a strategic cooperation agreement in May 2020. The third phase would involve building a third ethylene cracker and deploying the Shell Group’s advanced technology for linear alpha olefins for the first time in Asia. Shell and CNOOC also announced a Memorandum of Understanding in 2020, to explore a commercial-scale polycarbonate production unit at the site, using the Shell Group’s diphenyl carbonate process technology.

Sinopec Engineering awarded EPC for ExxonMobil project

Meanwhile, in other news China's state-controlled Sinopec Engineering has been awarded an engineering and construction project by US chemical firm ExxonMobil for its planned Huizhou petrochemical complex in Guangdong province. The project will include a 1.6 million-tonne/year flexible feed steam cracker and downstream PE and PP plants.

The basic design, engineering, procurement and construction contract covers the first phase of the Huizhou chemical complex, Sinopec Engineering said, adding that it covers all process units, utilities and infrastructure and is worth an estimated multi-billion dollars.

However, the Huizhou project has yet to reach a final investment decision. ExxonMobil's planned investment was first announced in 2017 and early construction work started in April last year with a targeted start-up date of 2023, with no further details of the progress of the project.

ExxonMobil will own 100% of the project, which is unusual for a foreign investment in China. The company already has a 25% joint venture stake in domestic refiner Sinopec's 240,000 b/d Fujian refinery and associated 800,000-tonne/year ethylene steam cracker.


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