Belgium: Propylene Production Borealis Starts Construction of World-Scale Plant in Kallo

Editor: Alexander Stark

Borealis has held the groundbreaking ceremony for its new, world-scale propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant. Located at the existing Borealis production site in Kallo, Belgium, the new facility will have a targeted production capacity of 750,000 metric tonnes per year of propylene.

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Groundbreaking ceremony in Kallo on September 9
Groundbreaking ceremony in Kallo on September 9
(Source: Borealis)

Kallo/Belgium — Borealis has invested around $ 1.1 billion in its newly built PDH plant in Kallo, making it the largest ever made investment by the company in Europe.

PDH is a vital process step in the production of propylene from propane. As one of the most important building blocks for the entire chemical industry, propylene is the raw material used to produce polypropylene (PP), which in turn is one of the most widely used plastics. PP forms the base of countless industrial applications used in any number of sectors, including automotive, consumer goods, energy, food packaging, healthcare, and many others.

European demand for propylene is growing, yet presently, supply is decreasing due to a confluence of global market developments. The start-up of the new Kallo plant, scheduled for the middle of 2022, means that European customers will soon be able to rely on the secure supply of competitively priced propylene and its derivatives.

One reason for the choice of the location were the economies of scale offered by the Port of Antwerp in Flanders. Thanks to the adjacency to an existing production unit on site, the company will be able to exploit additional synergistic effects. The new PDH plant will employ Honeywell UOP’s Oleflex technology for on-purpose propylene production.

Beyond the increase in production capacity, the new plant is to help make operations more efficient and sustainable. Using the Oleflex technology makes it possible to consume less energy in production, yet produce higher volumes of the same quality, the company said. Less propane will be required, but more own hydrogen will be produced, enabling Borealis to supply not only its own internal needs, but those of third parties as well. Finally, the embedded, multi-fuel cogeneration unit in the new PDH plant is to generate a significant part of the steam and electricity required for operations.

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During the construction phase, an average of around 1,000 workers will be employed on site, with this figure spiking to over 2,000 during crucial building phases. Once the plant is operational, additional labour will be required for regular plant turnarounds taking place every several years. Advantageous knock-on effects are also expected for regional suppliers and other businesses in Flanders.

Select facts & figures — Kallo PDH plant construction

  • Overall investment sum of approximately EUR 1 billion
  • Total targeted plant capacity of 750,000 tonnes of propylene per year
  • Construction commencing 2019, start-up planned for mid-2022
  • Tecnimont was awarded the engineering, procurement, construction management (EPCM) contract as well as the commissioning services contract for the project
  • Around 100 new full-time jobs will be created by plant
  • Construction workforce numbers 1,000, with over 2,000 during peak periods