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40 years of petrochemical production

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Shell has announced that its Moerdijk petrochemical complex has clocked 40 years of production. Centrally located between the major ports of Rotterdam, the Netherlands and Antwerp, Belgium and strategically positioned alongside deep water, the complex has been expanded over time. Today, its capacity has nearly tripled to 5.4 million tpy, and the site remains one of Shell’s core global petrochemical manufacturing facilities.

Plant history

Plant construction began in 1969. The petrochemical complex started up and shipped its first commercial product in 1973. Since then, Shell has continued to grow the facilities, investing significantly over the years to build several new plants and supporting amenities. The second phase of expansion took place in 1976, and a third in 1996. In 1999, Shell’s 50:50 joint venture with BASF, ELLBA BV, also opened on the site, producing styrene monomer and propylene oxide.

The plant today

Four decades on, the mega site manufactures a variety of basic ‘building block’ petrochemical products and derivatives. Much of these are sold to industrial customers in Europe and beyond, who use them to manufacture many everyday products, including car components, synthetic fibres, insulation materials, latex paints and anti freeze.

The plants at Shell Moerdijk, all of which are ISO 9001-2000 and or/14001 certified, cover 250 hectares of land. The site still has an additional 70 hectares of land, equivalent to over 100 football fields, to accommodate potential growth.


Graham Van’t Hoff, Executive VP for Shell Chemicals said, ‘after 40 years, Shell Moerdijk remains a high performing site that continues to deliver value to Shell. Its tight integration with Shell’s Pernis refinery has brought many advantages, including access to competitive feedstocks and efficiencies in infrastructures, operations, logistics and shared manufacturing expertise. Shell expects to continue investing in this key petrochemical asset.’

Adapted from a press release by Claira Lloyd.

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