Ineos invests 3 billion euros in the port of Antwerp

The group's future factory, led by Jim Ratcliffe of Great Britain, will produce automotive, pharmacy and packaging materials.

By Sophie Petitjean Posted today at 10h42

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The port of Antwerp, Belgium, in July 2018.
The port of Antwerp, Belgium, in July 2018. Francois Lenoir / REUTERS

The transformation of Europe's petrochemical landscape has been a major boost: the private group Ineos, led by the wealthy British Jim Ratcliffe, pledged Tuesday, January 15, to invest 3 billion euros in the port of Antwerp, Belgium. The injected funds will finance a dehydrogenation plant for propane (propylene) and a cracker (ethylene), in order to produce, over time, 2 million tons of materials per year for sectors such as automotive, pharmacy or materials. packaging.

According to the figures of the manufacturer, the construction of the site could mobilize 3,000 workers and, once put into service, it should allow to create 400 direct full-time jobs and five times more indirect jobs. This is the largest investment by the petrochemical manufacturer since its inception in 1998.

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"The cracker is the base of petrochemicals. It was time to invest in Europe, otherwise it was the Chinese who would do it Responded, enthusiastically, Samuele Furfari, professor of geopolitics at the Free University of Brussels. In fact, the global ethylene production capacity in Europe has halved since 2008 and the EU has not welcomed a new cracker for more than 20 years.

A project finalized in 2024

To complete this project, which should be finalized in 2024, Jim Ratcliffe will import shale gas from the United States, as he is already doing to the United Kingdom and Norway. And if he was kind to Belgium, this fervent Brexit advocate did not hesitate to tackle European energy and environmental policy, including the European Union's approach. (EU) on nuclear and shale gas. France, which plans to close some of its nuclear reactors by 2035 and bans shale gas drilling on its territory, is no exception.

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"If you do not have shale gas or nuclear energy, you have an extremely expensive energy in Europe and your environmental performance is poor because you depend on more environmentally polluting fuels. The businessman said, even going so far as to say that, without American shale gas, his company would have been unable to justify the € 3 billion committed in Antwerp, for lack of return on investment .