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Shell builds Singapore pyrolysis oil unit to convert plastic waste to chemicals

Shell builds Singapore pyrolysis oil unit to convert plastic waste to chemicals

FILE PHOTO: A general view of Shell's Pulau Bukom petrochemical complex in Singapore July 15, 2019. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

SINGAPORE: Royal Dutch Shell said on Tuesday (Nov 23) that it plans to build a pyrolysis oil upgrader to turn plastic waste into chemical feedstock at its petrochemical complex on Pulau Bukom, part of its shift from oil and gas to renewables and low-carbon energy.

The company is also considering building a carbon capture and storage regional hub and a 550,000 tonnes per year biofuels plant at the 60-year-old Bukom manufacturing site, one of five remaining energy and chemical parks owned by Shell globally.

The projects form part of Shell Singapore's plans to cut emissions from its own operations by half by 2030, from 2016 levels on a net basis, Shell downstream director Huibert Vigeveno said.

"This year, we have already halved our crude processing capacity, which is in line with Shell's global targets to reduce emissions," he said at a ceremony to break ground for the pyrolysis oil upgrader project.

Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong attended the groundbreaking of the unit, where he announced the Government’s plans to transform Jurong Island into a "sustainable energy and chemicals park" that operates sustainably and exports sustainable products globally.

The plans are detailed in the Singapore Economic Development Board's (EDB) “Sustainable Jurong Island” report, which was released on Tuesday.

"Aspirational targets" for Singapore's energy & chemicals (E&C) sector set in the report include increasing its output of sustainable products by four times from 2019 levels, and achieving more than 6 million tonnes of carbon abatement per year from low-carbon solutions by 2050.

Energy companies are facing increasing pressure from investors, activists and governments to shift away from fossil fuels and rapidly ramp up investment in renewables.

Shell has pledged to halve emissions from its global operations by 2030, as well as reduce its net carbon footprint by 45 per cent by 2035.

The Singapore pyrolysis oil upgrader will produce 50,000 tonnes per year of treated pyrolysis oil in 2023, the company said. The unit is Shell's first globally. It did not give an investment figure for the Singapore project.

Pyrolysis melts plastic waste into products such as pyrolysis oil, which can be upgraded as raw material for plastics and chemicals, although the process isn't commercially proven and consumes a lot of energy.

Shell also plans to build two chemical conversion units in Asia to convert waste plastics into pyrolysis oil for the Shell Energy and Chemical Park Singapore at Bukom and Jurong Island, similar to units in the Netherlands with joint venture partner BlueAlp which will be operational in 2023.

Other projects being planned in Singapore include a carbon capture and storage hub to reduce emissions.

To meet Shell's global ambition to make around 2 million tonnes of sustainable aviation fuel a year by 2025, the company is looking at investing in a facility to produce 550,000 tonnes of biofuels a year from waste and vegetable oils, Vigeveno said.

Shell has previously announced that it will trial the use of hydrogen fuel cells for ships in Singapore and is exploring developing a solar farm in a landfill near Bukom.

Source: Reuters/CNA/kg

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