INEOS Oligomers completes LAO debottlenecking project in Alberta; will add new world-scale PAO unit in 2018

INEOS Oligomers, which is headquartered in League City, Texas, U.S.A., said that debottlenecking of its Joffre, Alberta linear alpha olefin (LAO) plant in Canada has been completed. The plant’s capacity is 275,000 metric tons per annum (MTPA).

Linear alpha olefins are used as co-polymers in polyethylene manufacture as well as in surfactants, lubricants and oil drilling fluids.

“Additional debottleneck opportunities still exist at this unit as it was originally designed to be expandable by 50% of its original design capacity,” said Karel Brabant, operations director.

In addition to this debottlenecking project, the company plans to build a 350,000 MTPA world-scale LAO unit on the U.S. Gulf Coast, where Ineos Oligomers operates an 80,000 MTPA poly alpha olefin (PAO) unit in La Porte, Texas.

“Our plan to build a new 350,000 metric-ton-per-year world scale LAO unit on the USGC continues to advance,” said Joe Walton, business director.

“We continue to believe our market and technology focus on polyethylene comonomers and PAO, combined with our access to USGC ethylene economics, make this an attractive opportunity,” he said.

The start-up date for this new unit is the third quarter of 2017.

The early phases of the engineering work has been successfully completed with the assistance of Jacobs Engineering Group Inc., according to Project General Manager Peter Steylaerts.  “We have now moved forward into a different phase of work with the support of Woods Group Mustang,” he said.

The additional LAO capacity will support the feedstock requirements of its growing PAO business, according to Walton.

“Our low viscosity PAO business continues to benefit from lubricant reformulation activity to both attain better fuel economy and to lower carbon emissions.  INEOS Oligomers is the world’s largest merchant supplier of low viscosity PAO and our investment plans will ensure we maintain this position,” he said.

The La Porte facility was expanded back in 2013. Another debottlenecking will be completed by the end of the year, according to Brabant.

PAOs are essential in the production of high-performance synthetic lubricants.

The company also produces LAOs and PAOs in Feluy, Belgium (435,000 MTPA), which potentially can be expanded by 15% through debottlenecking.

These incremental capacity additions will support the growth in Ineos Oligomers’ PAO business until an additional new world scale train goes on line in 2018, which will potentially add up to 80,000 MTPA of additional capacity.