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Exxon’s Singapore expansion on schedule; Vistamaxx broadened

The construction of what will be ExxonMobil's largest integrated chemical and refining complex continues apace with the arrival of seven world-scale furnace modules in Singapore. The furnace modules, which are about 50m tall and weigh more than 2000 tons, employ proprietary technology and are part of a feed-flexible steam cracker that will have ethylene production capacity of more than 1 million tons/yr.

PlasticsToday Staff

April 27, 2010

3 Min Read
Exxon’s Singapore expansion on schedule; Vistamaxx broadened

The construction of what will be ExxonMobil's largest integrated chemical and refining complex continues apace with the arrival of seven world-scale furnace modules in Singapore. The furnace modules, which are about 50m tall and weigh more than 2000 tons, employ proprietary technology and are part of a feed-flexible steam cracker that will have ethylene production capacity of more than 1 million tons/yr.

The world-scale steam cracker will feed new derivative units, including polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), and specialty elastomers, as well as an aromatics extraction unit and oxo alcohol expansion. The anticipated mechanical completion and start-up activities for the new facilities will initiate in late 2010 and run through 2011. In its initial plan, ExxonMobil Chemical said the new operation would feature two 650,000-tons/yr PE units and a 450,000-tons/yr PP unit. The expansion will also feature 300,000 tons/yr of capacity for specialty elastomers, including its Vistamaxx propylene-based elastomer.

Located on Jurong Island, southwest of Singapore's main island, the expanded site is part of an integrated refining and chemical production operation, completed by ExxonMobil in 2001. The refining operation processes about 605,000 barrels of crude oil/day, while the $2 billion Singapore Chemical Plant (SCP) represents ExxonMobil Chemical's largest investment in the Asia-Pacific region. In its current state, the site includes five integrated units, with production capacity for 900,000 tons/yr of ethylene, 435,000 tons/yr propylene, 480,000 tons/yr PE, and 315,000 tons/yr PP. Fully integrated with ExxonMobil's two other refineries in Singapore, the facility employs 600.

In a release, Kwa Chong Seng, chairman and managing director of ExxonMobil Asia Pacific Pte Ltd. said, "When completed, the integrated manufacturing site here will be well placed to serve the growing markets in the Asia-Pacific region." At the recently completed Chinaplas event, the company promoted four new grades of Vistamaxx, a new Enable metallocene polyethylene (mPE) grade, and three PP grades that are new to the Asia-Pacific region. 

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ExxonMobil Chemical’s Maenza: Broad application potential for Vistamaxx.

Beyond touting the benefits of using its Vistamaxx propylene-based elastomers in film applications at Chinaplas, ExxonMobil also showed how other processes can benefit from its utilization as a modifier.

According to Lynn Maenza, Asia Pacific marketing manager for ExxonMobil Chemical’s specialty elastomers business, 5–10% loadings of Vistamaxx incorporated into rigid PP containers can enhance both toughness and flexiblity without compromising clarity, which in fact is actually improved. “This can [for exzample] reduce breakage of storage boxes during transit, or improve the performance of freezer-to-microwave containers,” says Maenza. Vistamaxx had a real-life presence at Chinaplas, being used in a thin-wall disposable container application processed on an injection machine at the Sumitomo (SHI) Demag (Wiehe, Germany) stand.

Vistamaxx can also eliminate stress whitening in PP storage boxes with living hinges, as well as improved the performance of PP thermoformed cups. “We’ve also seen cases where Vistamaxx has improved the safety of toys and cases for children’s DVDs,” says Maenza. “In both cases, insufficent impact properties were improved and the products were able to pass the relevant safety tests without having to be retooled.” In other real-world examples, Vistamaxx has reportedly taken products to new price points on account of higher clarity and increased product robustness leading to longer life. —Tony Deligio and Stephen Moore

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