Ineos may close Grangemouth ethanol plant: Update

  • Market: Biofuels, LPG, Petrochemicals
  • 19/03/24

Adds details on plant capacity, production and feedstocks in paragraphs two and three

UK-based chemicals firm Ineos has proposed to stop ethanol production at its Grangemouth plant in Scotland in the first quarter of 2025.

The company told Argus its ethanol business at Grangemouth has been "running at a loss" for more than five years, a result of reduced demand for ethanol in Europe and pressure from imports. It declined to comment on current ethanol output from the facility, which has capacity of 340,000 t/yr according to Argus.

Grangemouth ethanol production is based on ethylene supplied from the company's neighbouring 740,000 t/yr ethane and LPG-based steam cracker, with capacity to consume an estimated 214,000 t/yr of ethylene at nameplate production capacity. The closure would swing the ethylene balance at Grangemouth from balanced to long, based on nameplate capacities. The excess could be exported or swapped into Ineos' European ethylene balance, which is short.

Customers "will be offered the supply of ethanol from Ineos' other plant in Herne, Germany," said Ineos Olefins and Polymers chief executive Stuart Collings.

Ineos told Argus that the closure of the plant depends on the outcome of ongoing consultations with its employees and the trade union.

The Argus fob ARA range spot ethanol price averaged around €770/m³ in 2023, compared with €1,020/m³ in 2022. After rising towards €900/m³ by the start of November, the price has now dropped below €700/m³.

Ex-EU imports of undenatured ethanol — required for road fuel blending in Europe — had fallen from the start of 2023 through to the end of the third quarter of that year, to about 811,000t from around 943,000t in the same period in 2022, according to provisional GTT data. The decline was largely attributed to lower ethanol prices in northwest Europe.


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