Chemicals giant Ineos is to make its biggest ever investment by building a new £2.6 billion plant in Belgium.
The ethane gas ‘cracker’ unit will be built in Antwerp, bringing “huge benefits” to Belgium and other European economies, said the company.
Chairman Sir Jim Ratcliffe, a supporter of Brexit, said he believed the investment would reverse years of decline in the sector.
“Our investment in a gas cracker and world-scale PDH unit (Propane dehydrogenation) is the largest of its kind in Europe for more than a generation and is an important development for the European petrochemical industry,” he said.
Ineos, which owns the huge Grangemouth refinery in Scotland, said the investment was a “game changer” for the chemicals industry.
The new petrochemical complex will be co-located within existing Ineos sites in Europe making polymers and will be connected by pipeline to a number of the company’s ethylene and propylene units in the region.
Ineos employs 2,500 workers in Belgium people across nine manufacturing sites and a technology centre, with six of these located in Antwerp.
John McNally, chief executive of the project said: “The selection of Antwerp as a location for these new assets is a significant step forward for the development of this project.
“This decision builds upon our long-standing relationship with the Port of Antwerp, the City of Antwerp, and the governments of Flanders and Belgium.”
Rob Ingram, chief executive of Ineos Olefins & Polymers Europe North, said: “The addition of these world-scale assets, using cutting edge technologies that are also highly energy efficient, will give us a competitive and sustainable cost base.
“We believe this will significantly strengthen the whole of the ethylene and propylene derivative chains within Ineos and allow us to continue to support the growth and development of our customers for years to come.”