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Shell to invest in Rotterdam green methanol plant

Printed below is an English translation of an article published today by the Dutch Financial Times, Financieele Dagblad.

 

Shell enters green methanol project in Botle

Hans Verbraeken: 1 March 2019

Shell is going to co-invest in the planned construction of a green methanol plant in the Botlek in Rotterdam. The construction costs amount to more than € 200 million.

Methanol can serve as a fuel or as a raw material for making chemistry products. The oil and gas company will be the fifth participant in the consortium that has been active for one and a half years. Shell will also become a customer of green methanol as fuel.

The participation of Shell gives the other four companies in the consortium ‘extra trust’ in the project. ‘Shell has also looked and thinks it’s a great project,’ says the spokesman for the consortium, Marco Waas, director R & DI and Technology at Nouryon, one of the other four participants. Nouryon is the former chemical branch of AkzoNobel, which was sold last year. Waas is chairman of the Waste-to-Chemicals consortium.

The other participants alongside Shell and Nouryon who have been participating in the project right from the start are the French manufacturer of industrial gases Air Liquide, the Canadian waste processing company Enerkem and the port company Rotterdam. Each company participates for 20% in the now established joint venture W2C Rotterdam bv. The planned factory has to be ready by the end of 2021.

65% less CO2 emissions

The methanol to be produced is called ‘green’ because the waste that is delivered is recycled in this process instead of burned. The waste – low-grade plastic and adhering green waste – is converted into syngas made of carbon (CO) and hydrogen (H2) and then into methanol. Normally methanol is made from natural gas and contributes to the emission of CO2. The total CO2 emissions are at least 65% lower than with fossil methanol. Air Liquide and Nouryon deliver the necessary raw materials, respectively oxygen and partly green hydrogen.

The planned factory converts 360,000 tons of waste – a waste stream of more than 700,000 households – into 220,000 tons of methanol every year. It is the first factory in Europe to produce chemicals and biofuels from non-recyclable waste. ‘This is the first step towards a larger scale of methanol production,’ says Waas. ‘Factories for fossil methanol are four to five times as large.’

Investment decision this year

The final investment decision is in all likelihood still in 2019, after the consortium spoke earlier of ‘after the summer of 2018’. Among other things, there is still consultation with the banks. Shell is enthusiastic. ‘This makes it possible to meet the demand for energy and at the same time reduce the emission of greenhouse gases in order to tackle climate change and air pollution,’ says Andrew Murfin, general director of Advanced Biofuels at Shell.

DUTCH SOURCE

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