Shell builds Singapore pyrolysis oil unit to convert plastic waste to chemicals

SINGAPORE, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell said on Tuesday it plans to build a pyrolysis oil upgrader to turn plastic waste into chemical feedstock at its petrochemical complex in Singapore, part of its shift from oil and gas to renewables and low-carbon energy.

The company is also considering building a carbon capture and storage (CCS) regional hub and a 550,000 tonnes per year (tpy) biofuels plant at its 60-year-old Pulau Bukom manufacturing site, one of five remaining energy and chemical parks owned by Shell globally.

The projects form part of Shell Singapore’s plans to cut emissions from its own operations by half by 2030, from 2016 levels on a net basis, Shell Downstream Director Huibert Vigeveno said.

"This year, we have already halved our crude processing capacity here, which is in line with Shell's global targets to reduce emissions," he said at a ceremony to break ground for the pyrolysis oil upgrader project.

Energy companies are facing increasing pressure from investors, activists and governments to shift away from fossil fuels and rapidly ramp up investment in renewables.

Shell has pledged to halve emissions from its global operations by 2030, as well as reduce its net carbon footprint by 45% by 2035.

The Singapore pyrolysis oil upgrader will produce 50,000 tonnes per year (tpy) of treated pyrolysis oil in 2023, the company said. The unit is Shell’s first globally. It did not give an investment figure for the Singapore project.

Pyrolysis melts plastic waste into products such as pyrolysis oil, which can be upgraded as raw material for plastics and chemicals, although the process isn't commercially proven and consumes a lot of energy here.

Shell also plans to build two chemical conversion units in Asia to convert waste plastics into pyrolysis oil for the Shell Energy and Chemical Park Singapore at Bukom and Jurong Island, similar to units in the Netherlands with joint venture partner BlueAlp which will be operational in 2023.

Other projects being planned in Singapore include a carbon capture and storage (CCS) hub to reduce emissions.

To meet Shell’s global ambition to make around 2 million tonnes of sustainable aviation fuel a year by 2025, the company is looking at investing in a facility to produce 550,000 tonnes of biofuels a year from waste and vegetable oils, Vigeveno said.

Shell has previously announced it will trial the use of hydrogen fuel cells for ships in Singapore and is exploring developing a solar farm in a landfill near Bukom.

Reporting by Florence Tan; additional reporting by Ron Bousso in London; editing by Richard Pullin