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INEOS to make mega-investment in the port of Antwerp

INEOS has chosen the port of Antwerp as the location for a mega-investment of €3 billion, accounting for 400 new jobs.

The investment is the largest in the European chemical industry in 20 years. With the acquisition of this large-scale investment project, Flanders confirms its position as a leading chemical region and confirms and strengthens the port of Antwerp its role as the largest chemical cluster in Europe.

Earlier this year, INEOS announced a large-scale investment in the context of the further expansion of its chemical plants. Several European locations were candidates for this, but in the end, the British chemical group opted for Antwerp.

INEOS is planning a brand new ethanol cracker in Antwerp. These must convert propane into propylene and ethane in ethylene respectively, necessary raw materials for other chemical products that find their way into many sectors such as the automotive, construction and clothing sector, cosmetics and personal care, pharmaceuticals, electronics and packaging materials.

The investment will be made at the existing INEOS site in Lillo and adjacent sites. To this end, unused parts of concessions from neighbouring companies are taken over by INEOS, which guarantees optimal integration with the existing industry. For example, the new plants will be connected via pipelines to various INEOS ethylene and propylene derivative units in Europe.

It normally takes four to five years to complete projects of this size and it is expected that the new production units will be commissioned in 2024. Once operational, the investment will create 400 direct, full-time jobs and a five-fold indirect job. Approximately 3,000 employees will be working during the construction phase.

Jim Ratcliffe, CEO and Chairman of INEOS explains: “Our investment in a world-scale ethanol cracker and propane dewatering plant is the largest of its kind in Europe since more than a generation and a major development for the European petrochemical industry. We believe that this investment can reverse a long-term decline in the European chemical sector.”

Hans Casier, CEO of INEOS Phenol and chairman essenscia, the sector federation of chemistry and life sciences: “The fact that Antwerp has been chosen as an investment location will further strengthen the international competitive position of the existing chemical cluster. This is a great success for the chemical industry and the port, but also for the economy in Flanders, Belgium and Europe.”

Frank Beckx, managing director of the sector federation essenscia vlaanderen: “The fact that Borealis now chooses INEOS for Antwerp a few months ago also puts the chemical sector in Flanders more than ever on the world map. Especially the construction of a hypermodern cracker, based on the latest technology, is of great strategic importance because it was from the nineties ago that such an installation was built in Western Europe. A cracker produces essential base molecules and thus forms the heart of the chemical industry. With as many as 400 new jobs this is also an extra boost for job growth in the sector. This is undoubtedly the most important economic news for a long time and this investment - which may attract a lot of extra investments - strengthens the position of the chemical industry as the key sector of the Flemish industry.”

Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO Antwerp Port Authority: “The fact that INEOS opts for this investment for our port is of course very good news. Once again it appears that we, as the largest integrated chemical cluster in Europe, have a great attraction for international investors. Moreover, the production of propylene and ethylene is an important basic product for other processes, which will further strengthen our raw materials position in the chemical industry and so will other industries in our country. This mega-investment brings the total amount of new investments we have brought to Antwerp in the past year, to more than 5 billion euros. This will undoubtedly give an extra boost to the anchoring of our industry here in Antwerp and make an essential contribution to the sustainable future of our port and of the Belgian economy.”

Earlier this year, the Welcome Team for the Chemical Sector was launched by Flanders Investment & Trade and sector federation essenscia vlaanderen. This initiative unites a team of experts to provide intensive guidance to foreign companies from the chemical sector on investment files and highlight the strengths of the chemical sector in Flanders, including innovation, taxation and investment support. The sector of chemistry and life sciences, with around 300 investment projects since 2010, accounts for about half of all foreign investments in Flanders.

Prime Minister Geert Bourgeois said: “This is very good news and an exceptional event: the largest investment in Flanders in the last 20 years. The file is also a nice illustration of long-term cooperation between various ministers and governments, the sector federation, the port, ... with a common goal and coordinated by my agency, Flanders Investment & Trade.”

Claire Tillekaerts, managing director of Flanders Investment & Trade said: “An investment of no less than 3 billion euros in the port of Antwerp by INEOS is not only very good news for the Flemish economy. It emphasizes the efficient cooperation between the government, the business community, knowledge institutions and the Antwerp Port Authority, which means that our region is able to attract such large investments. The 'Welcome Team for Chemistry' - which is coordinated by FIT - was ready with the necessary expertise in finding the ideal location, choosing the right local partners, etc. To give this investment a kick-start in Flanders, too, the competent government cabinets intensively. Everyone who was part of this file responded extremely quickly and extensively and professionally to the questions of INEOS.”