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Shell: Geismar alpha olefin unit to begin production by end of 2018

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Shell has announced that an alpha olefins (AO) unit currently under construction at its chemical manufacturing site in Geismar, Louisiana, US is progressing towards start-up later this year.

The AO unit, the fourth at the Geismar site, will bring total production to over 1.3 million tpy, making Geismar the largest AO producer globally.

Shell took the final investment decision to increase production in November 2015; main site construction began in 1Q16, and has since placed large process equipment like reactors, columns and vessels, and pre-assembled modules that form the core of the new AO unit at Geismar.

A cooling tower for the new AO unit has been completed, along with two new storage areas, one for rail and one for the AO unit’s high-purity butene.

Construction continues to progress well towards start-up later this year, with the focus on electrical and instrumentation activities, and starting commissioning of certain systems as they reach mechanical completion.

The project hit a peak of 2000 construction workers in December last year, and the total number of permanent employees will increase to around 700 when completed.

Shell will supply advantaged ethylene feedstock from the nearby Norco and Deer Park sites. The new unit will be based on Shell’s advantaged technology, known as the Shell higher olefins process (SHOP) technology that has been used by Shell since the 1970s.

The chemicals produced at Geismar, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in October 2017, are used in the production of stronger and lighter polyethylene plastic for packaging and bottles, as well as engine and industrial oils and drilling fluids.

"This is one of Shell’s largest chemicals investments in the USA,” said Graham van’t Hoff, Executive Vice President for Royal Dutch Shell global chemicals business. “We are on track to begin commercial production by the end of 2018, enabling Shell to remain an important economic engine for this region.”

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