Australia to facilitate construction of dimethyl ether plant

Australia has awarded a proposed dimethyl ether plant in Pilbara region of Western Australia major project facilitation status. Sen. Nick Minchin, the Australian minister for Industry, Science, and Resources, said the proposal shows industry interest in using Australia as a focal point for the commercialization of gas-to-liquids technology.


By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, June 6 -- Australia has awarded a proposed dimethyl ether plant in Pilbara region of Western Australia major project facilitation status.

That status level indicates federal and state approvals will be coordinated.

A consortium of Japanese companies, including Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Co. Inc., JGC Corp., Itochu Corp., and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., are considering building the plant at a cost between $500 million (US) and $600 million.

Australia said that to date DME has only been used as a propellant or solvent, but that the substance could also be used for other purposes, including feedstock for other plants and possibly as an alternative to diesel fuel and liquefied petroleum gas.

The proposed plant would produce 4,000-7,000 tonnes/day of DME.

"If developed, the plant is expected to generate more than 2,000 jobs during construction and approximately 150 permanent jobs when the plant is in full operation. It is also expected to bring economic benefits to local business and support industries," said Sen. Nick Minchin, the Australian minister for Industry, Science, and Resources.

If all approvals are granted, construction could be completed by late 2006.

Minchin said the proposal shows the interest of the international industry in using Australia as a focal point for the commercialization of gas-to-liquids technology.

"I have recently established a gas-to-liquids task force to advise me on the opportunities for Australia to become a global center for GTL production and technical expertise while at the same time diversifying our transport fuels market," Minchin added.

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