SINGAPORE (Reuters) – China’s Sinopec Corp said on Wednesday it completed a successful trial processing crude oil directly into olefin, making the top Asian refiner one of the world’s few companies that have applied the technology at an industrial scale.
With a yield of close to 50%, the manufacturing process cuts significantly production cost as well as carbon dioxide emission, compared with the traditional approach of refining crude into intermediate fuels which are further processed into olefin, Sinopec said.
Olefin – mainly ethylene and propylene – is the key building block for making petrochemicals such as plastics and synthetic fibre.
Following the trial at Sinopec subsidiary plant in Tianjin, the refiner will follow up with building a one million tonne per year crude-to-olefin plant, it said, without giving further details.
China, the world’s largest emitter of green house gases, is expected to cap its primary crude oil refining capacity at one billion tonnes annually by 2025 (20 million barrels per day), under a national goal to hit carbon emission peak before 2030.
But it remains short of petrochemicals such as plastics and synthetic fibre.
ExxonMobil is another firm equipped with such technology, Sinopec added.
The U.S. oil and gas major said last week it had made a final investment decision to build a multi-billion dollar petrochemical complex in south China, which will incorporate a similar manufacturing process according to industry experts.
(Reporting by Chen Aizhu; Editng by Robert Birsel)