INEOS Oligomers announces plan to grow low-viscosity poly alpha olefins (PAO) capacity

INEOS Oligomers announced plans to significantly grow its low-viscosity poly alpha olefins (PAO) capacity by building the world’s largest single-train plant. INEOS Oligomers said it expects the 120 kilotonne-per-annum (ktpa) unit to be on-stream by the first half of 2019, without disclosing the plant’s location for now.

“The industry needs an increased supply of high-quality base oils, such as PAO, to formulate the next generation of advanced lubricant products,” said Bob Learman, INEOS Oligomers CEO. “INEOS is making the commitment to invest in both the PAO capacity and the necessary LAO [linear alpha olefin) feedstock supply to ensure PAO is a viable and secure long-term formulation option for our customers,” he said.

“The new plant will provide additional capacity and security of supply. In addition, it will make our overall production capability more flexible, which is important in supporting new products we plan to introduce to the market in the coming years to keep pace with evolving customer needs,” said Joe Walton, business director of INEOS Oligomers.

The business has also completed debottlenecking its plant in La Porte, Texas, U.S.A., producing low-viscosity grades, and has optimised production runs at its plant in Feluy, Belgium. The projects have successfully increased its global low-viscosity PAO capacity by approximately 15%, according to INEOS Oligomers.

INEOS also has an engineering project to mechanically debottleneck the Feluy PAO plant, which could add a further 15% to the plant’s potential capacity by early 2018.

End applications have continued to grow for both high- and low-viscosity grade poly alpha olefins. These products are increasingly used in industrial and automotive lubricant applications, including passenger car motor oils, lubricants for wind turbines, heavy-duty diesel engine oils and other specialty fluids.

In addition to investment in its low-viscosity grade PAO capacity, INEOS Oligomers has also previously announced a new 20 ktpa high-viscosity PAO unit at its La Porte plant which will be commissioned in the first quarter of 2017. The unit, which is being built at the company’s existing PAO facility in La Porte, will use INEOS’ metallocene high viscosity PAO technology and will benefit from several site synergies.

INEOS has also confirmed that it has decided to build a 420 ktpa LAO unit in Chocolate Bayou, Texas, U.S.A. This unit will provide the raw materials (including up to 85 ktpa of decene-1) used by its poly alpha olefins units.