Polski Koncern Naftowy SA (PKN ORLEN) has greenlighted a project involving construction of a new unit to support operations of its proposed Olefins 3 complex to be built as part of the operator’s Petrochemicals Development Programme (PDP) at its existing 16.3-million tonnes/year (tpy) dual refining and petrochemical manufacturing site in Plock, Poland (OGJ Online, Aug. 9, 2021).
Officially approved by the company’s management and supervisory boards in April but not disclosed to the market until May 17, the planned 760-million zloty investment project will add a new air separation unit (ASU)—or ASU 3—to supply necessary oxygen and nitrogen gases to the grassroots Olefins 3 complex currently under development at the Plock integrated plant, PKN ORLEN said in a mid-May release to investors.
Equipped with a combined annual production capacity equivalent to 38,500 cu m/hr of oxygen and 75,000 cu m/hr of nitrogen, the newly proposed ASU 3—which will also supply gases to other Plock production units—will enable the complex to expand its slate of product offerings to include high-margin liquid gases, while simultaneously reducing the site’s overall expenses by improving operational and processing efficiencies, the company said.
Upon announcing the new investment, PKN ORLEN additionally confirmed it concurrently let a contract to Linde PLC’s Linde GMBH Linde Engineering for delivery of engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) services for the inside battery limits (ISBL) portion of the ASU 3 project.
ASU 3 is scheduled to be completed in early 2025, the operator said.
To date, neither PKN Orlen nor Linde have revealed further details regarding the recently awarded EPC contract, neither a value nor Linde’s scope of ISBL works under the agreement.
Olefins 3 overview
The ASU 3 investment and EPC contract follows a series of contracts PKN ORLEN previously awarded for technology licensing and construction of its 13.5-billion zloty Plock Olefins 3 development, which is Europe’s largest petrochemical project in 20 years, as well as the operator’s largest capital investment ever (OGJ Online, May 13, 2020).
An initiative to advance a pillar under PKN Orlen’s ORLEN 2030 strategy specifically involving maximizing profitability of its existing operations to increase overall competitiveness and improve energy efficiency, the grassroots Olefins 3 complex will include construction of a new 740,000-tpy steam cracker, the upgrade of an existing 300,000-tpy ethylene unit, and the shuttering of Plock’s more than 40-year-old, original 340,000-tpy ethylene unit, PKN ORLEN said.
Designed to increase Plock’s ethylene production capacity by 60% to 1.04 million tpy from 640,000 tpy, the Olefins 3 project also will include construction of five additional units for production of ethylene oxide, ethylene glycols, pyrolysis gasoline, ethyl tertbutyl ether, and styrene to expand the site’s repertoire of derivates supply to domestic and export markets.
PKN ORLEN plans to source the additional 1 million tpy of required feedstock for the Olefins 3 expansion from the integrated Plock refinery as well as other ORLEN Group refineries in the region.
Once in operation, the Olefins 3 development will increase the ORLEN Group’s share in the broader European petrochemical market to 6.4% from a current 5%, according to the operator’s website.
Slated for mechanical completion in 2024, PKN ORLEN said the Olefins 3 complex remains on schedule for start of commercial producing in early 2025.