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6 February 2019

Braskem and Haldor Topsoe start up demo unit for developing renewable MEG

The mechanical completion of the innovative first process step of the demonstration plant is the first milestone to be achieved by Braskem and Haldor Topsoe’s partnership to validate the MOSAIK™ sugar-to-biochemicals solution for production of cost-competitive bio-based MEG (monoethylene glycol). Currently, MEG is made from fossil-based feedstocks, such as naphtha, gas or coal. The demonstration plant is expected to produce more than 100 tons per year of glycolaldehyde, the precursor for MEG, when it begins operation on March 1, 2019. MEG is a key component of PET plastic used for food packaging, especially bottles, and polyester fabrics. The global MEG market represents a value of 25 billion dollars.

Belgium is the most important European distribution hub for chemicals from the Middle East, according to a report published at the end of 2013 by the Gulf PetroChemical Association.
In fact Belgium’s share of GPCA exports to Europe has more than doubled since 2002.

The report brings together information from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, together with data provided by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The impact of the chemical industry in the Gulf region is analysed quantitatively in the report according to various parameters including contribution to GDP, available production capacity and applications per product segment, import and exports, added value and job creation.

Over the past decade the Gulf states have developed into important production centres for petrochemicals in their own right. Total exports of chemical products from these countries rose from 7 billion dollars in 2002 to 52.7 billion in 2012. Asia is by far there largest market.

Europe comes in second place with 8.4 billion dollars or 15.9% of total exports by Gulf states in 2012. In terms of volume this represents 7.8 million tonnes, an increase of 280% in comparison with 2002. Turkey (outside the EU) and Belgium (inside the EU) between them account for half of these exports to Europe, with 26% and 24% respectively.

The fact that the port of Antwerp is also home to the largest integrated petrochemical cluster in Europe undoubtedly also plays an important role here. The Antwerp service providers offer a very high level of know-how and concern for safety in the chemical logistics chain, while Antwerp’s central location is another important advantage. This favourable position was further confirmed last year by the excellent figures for the volume of liquid bulk handled by the port (see separate article on provisional freight volumes for 2013).

The full report can be viewed here.