ExxonMobil says Singapore ethylene unit will crack crude

13:54 PM | January 13, 2014 | —Deepti Ramesh

Pryor: Biggest stream cracking advance in 70 years.

ExxonMobil Chemical says its recently started ethylene plant in Singapore can crack crude oil as feedstock, eliminating the refining steps needed to produce naphtha. ExxonMobil officially opened its expanded Singapore chemical complex on 8 January.

ExxonMobil Chemical president Stephen Pryor told attendees at the opening that the “unit can process an unprecedented range of feedstocks—from light gases to heavy liquids.” ExxonMobil says the Singapore unit is the first steam cracker that can use crude as a feedstock.

“Converting crude directly into chemicals has several advantages over processing naphtha, the standard feedstock in Asia,” Pryor says. “It lowers feedstock costs, and it saves energy and reduces emissions by eliminating the refining steps needed to produce naphtha.”

Crude cracking also produces a wider range of valuable by-products that can be further upgraded to specialty chemicals and other uses, he adds. “It is ExxonMobil’s biggest advance in steam cracking since we invented the process some 70 years ago,” Pryor says.

ExxonMobil says that the Singapore complex is now ExxonMobil’s largest integrated manufacturing site, representing about one-fourth of its global chemicals capacity.

The company started producing ethylene at its new 1-million m.t./year cracker in Singapore in May 2013. The plant is part of a multibillion-dollar expansion that was completed in December 2012.

The project includes two polyethylene plants, each with a capacity of 650,000 m.t./year; a 500,000-m.t./year polypropylene plant; a 300,000-m.t./year metallocene elastomers unit; a 125,000-m.t./year oxo alcohols unit; an 80,000-m.t./year para-xylene expansion; and 340,000 m.t./year of benzene.

Global chemical demand will grow quicker than GDP, and “two-thirds of that growth in chemical demand will be here in the Asia/Pacific region,” says Rex Tillerson, chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil. “ExxonMobil’s expanded Singapore chemical plant is uniquely positioned to serve these growth markets—from China to the Indian Subcontinent and beyond,” Tillerson says.