Energy giant Ineos, owner of the Grangemouth crude oil refinery, is to make a “game changing” investment by building a new £2.6 billion plant in Belgium.
The petrochemical firm said it will build an ethane gas cracker unit in Antwerp to bring “huge benefits” to Belgium and other European economies.
Founder and chairman Sir Jim Ratcliffe, known as Britain’s richest man and a prominent supporter of Brexit, said the investment would reverse years of decline in the sector.
He said: “Our investment in a gas cracker and world-scale PDH (propane dehydrogenation) unit is the largest of its kind in Europe for more than a generation and is an important development for the European petrochemical industry.”
The new petrochemical complex will be co-located within existing European sites and will be connected by pipeline to a number of the company’s ethylene and propylene units. The group employs 2,500 workers in Belgium.
Rob Ingram, chief executive of Ineos olefins and polymers Europe north, said: “The addition of these world-scale assets, using cutting edge technologies that are also highly energy efficient, will give us a competitive and sustainable cost base.
“We believe this will significantly strengthen the whole of the ethylene and propylene derivative chains within Ineos and allow us to continue to support the growth and development of our customers for years to come.”
Ineos announced in September that it is to invest £60m to grow its site in Grangemouth.