Unipetrol to beef up HDPE capacity; biggest investment in Czech Republic

Czech petrochemicals company Unipetrol, a part of the largest processor of crude oil in Central Europe PKN ORLEN Group, is constructing a PE plant at its Litvinov plant. Said to be the biggest investment in the history of the Czech petrochemical industry, it will be one of the most modern production facilities of this kind in Europe, according to Unipetrol. The overall project costs are estimated at CZK8.5 billion and the unit is expected to be put into operation in the middle of 2018, with a capacity of 270,000 tonnes/year.

The new PE3 unit will replace the PE1 unit while the PE2 (with a capacity of 200,000 tonnes/year) will remain in operation. The company has licensed technology from Ineos to produce HDPE, which is also produced by the current two PE units in operation.

Unipetrol’s production capacity of HDPE is currently 320,000 tonnes/year, i.e. PE1 – 120 ktonnes/year, and PE2 – 200 ktonnes/year. PE3 unit will replace PE1 unit. Therefore Unipetrol’s production capacity will increase to 470,000 tonnes/year (PE2 & PE3).

The PE3 unit will enable a higher utilisation of the steam cracker unit producing ethylene, which is further processed on PE units and will also contribute to higher integration of Unipetrol Group’s refining and petrochemical production. The PE3 unit is expected to bring a significant positive impact on Unipetrol’s Group profitability as well.

The company also says that due to the declining demand for basic ethylene and higher demand for HDPE, it is investing into the PE3 unit. With the new technology, the company says it will be able to reach out for new industrial segments, including cosmetic or packaging industry, in Europe.

"The construction of the new polyethylene unit is a key investment not only within our mid-term strategy but also for the development of the Czech petrochemical industry, both because of the capital invested and the most advanced technology to be used. The technology will move Unipetrol to the European elite in the area of product quality and at the same time ensure even better safety and reliability of the production. This is also a clear indication of our long term commitment to the strategic development on the Czech market,” said CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Unipetrol Marek Świtajewski.

The beginning of the construction works is scheduled for the second quarter of the next year. At the moment, companies Metrostav and ČKD Praha DIZ are already present on the site at Litvínov plant carrying out the necessary preparation works for construction of the production units.

Unipetrol has also signed an EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) contract with Technip Italy on the construction works, to start during second quarter 2016. End of the construction is planned for the first quarter 2018 and commissioning for mid-2018.


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