America’s success story goes on as INEOS Oligomers enters a new chapter in its history.
CHINA'S decision to invest billions in renewable energy is helping to fuel growth thousands of miles away in America.
China needs high-performance synthetic lubricants for its wind turbines - and INEOS Oligomers is investing millions to take full advantage.
To keep pace with demand, it has already built, at La Porte in Texas, a new unit which is producing 20,000 tonnes of high viscosity polyalphaole ns (PAO) a year.
And it is now building, at its neighbouring Chocolate Bayou site, the largest linear alpha olefin (LAO) unit in the world and a world-scale single train PAO unit capable of producing 120,000 tonnes of low viscosity products a year.
Both products are in demand.
The LAO unit will provide the essential raw materials for its PAO plants. PAOs are the key ingredient for the production of high-quality motor oils, lubricants for wind turbines, heavy-duty diesel engine oils, and other specialty fluids.
The new La Porte unit, which was recently built in part to take advantage of the tremendous, fast-growing market for wind turbines and wind turbine lubricants, has not only cemented INEOS’ position as a major producer of high viscosity oils but it complements its existing global leadership in low viscosity grades.
“The new unit marks INEOS’ first commercial unit for high viscosity PAO,” said Bob.
Aside from manufacturing the raw materials for PAO, the LAO business itself has also been expanding rapidly, thanks to demand from the polyethylene industry, its other important, and largest customer.
“LAO comonomers are used by the polyethylene industry to enhance the functionality of polyethylene,” said Bob. “And capacity for LAO in the US alone between 2016 and next year is expected to increase significantly."
INEOS’ decision to invest heavily in the Chocolate Bayou site has been an easy one.
The site already boasts two, world-scale, reliable ethylene crackers and is connected to the US Gulf Coast pipeline grid. It also has ample space for the new development with potential for expansion.
Work started at the Chocolate Bayou site at the end of 2016 and is due to be finished soon.
“Once it is complete, it will be the largest, organic growth project that INEOS has ever undertaken,” said Bob.
And once the unit comes on-stream with an extra 420,000 tonnes of LAO a year, INEOS Oligomers will from next year be producing globally about one million metric tons a year.
The expansion has also opened doors for people working for INEOS Oligomers.
“It has given our people new opportunities for growth,” said Bob. “Managers have been given new roles and they are doing a fantastic job.”
Bob said INEOS judges the success of any project by its safety performance; whether it is finished on time and within budget.
“I am delighted to say that we are meeting all three,” he said. “We have a tremendous safety record with more than one million man-hours without loss time accident. We are on budget and we have already hired the full management team.”