Borealis strengthens European commitment by PP expansion plan

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Photo by Borealis AG

Austrian polyolefin manufacturer Borealis AG has announced plans for the expansion of its polypropylene production in Europe, in a bid to improve supply to local customers.

In a statement on 6 Dec, the Vienna-based company said it would be adding 80 kilotonnes per annum (ktpa) to its production capacity in Kallo, Belgium. Borealis runs one production plant in Kallo with current capacity of 300 ktpa.

The added capacity is expected to come on-stream in mid-2020.

Additionally, the company has approved the execution of a front-end engineering design (FEED) study to expand its PP operations in Beringen, another Belgian town.

Borealis operates two propylene production units in Beringen, with a combined capacity of 380 ktpa. The new FEED study will investigate increasing production capacity by 250-300 ktpa.

The final investment decision on the Beringen project is expected by the end of 2019 and the start-up by mid-2022.

This latter project would include an upgrade of the current process technology to the proprietary Borstar platform. Borstar is a multi-modal technology for manufacturing polyethylene (PE) and PP and when combined with smart catalysts can produce high-performance materials.

Borealis declined to comment on the size of the investment but PNE estimates that the costs of the projects will be slightly under €500,000. 

The capacity increases are in alignment with another recent investment decision by Borealis to build a new €1bn, 750 ktpa propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant in Kallo, Belgium.

The planned added PP capacities will use the additional PDH feedstock supply, which is set to come on-stream in the second half of 2022.

Feedstock will be flowing to Beringen via an underground pipeline network, which according to Borealis “is the safest and most environmentally friendly transportation mode”.

Borealis went on to state that it had a “well-established, ongoing cooperation” with various authorities and stakeholders in Flanders and Belgium, including the Port of Antwerp and Locate-in-Limburg, to support its PP growth ambitions.

The decision to add the extra capacity, according to Borealis CEO Alfred Stern, is aimed to serve European customers, as PP supply in the region is not “keeping up” with increasing demand.

“With the market tightening and continuous application expansion for PP materials, additional investment is needed to support the growth of our customers. The synergies with the ongoing PDH project in Kallo will ensure a reliable and integrated value chain from feedstock to customers,” Stern added.

The new capacity will support the increasing demand in flexible and rigid packaging applications, as well as the automotive industry, according to Maria Ciliberti, Borealis VP marketing & new business development.

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