Why is Project ONE so ground-breaking for chemistry in Antwerp and Europe?

And how is Project ONE innovating the sector?

Ground-breaking for European chemistry

The chemical industry is a cornerstone of the European economy. However, the industry has experienced a set-back in the last couple of decades due to competition with China and the US. We believe that Project ONE will help reverse this decline and make Europe a pioneer again.

Did you know?
Flemish engineers are already helping to build Project ONE. And we are looking for more engineers and people with Bachelor of Science degrees to work on this chemistry project of the future.

In the last 20 years no one has invested such a significant amount (multiple billions) in the European chemical industry. Indeed, the youngest ethylene installation (ethane cracker) in Europe is now 25 years old. In recent years, new chemical plants have been built primarily in America, China and other parts of Asia, taking advantage of local, competitively priced raw materials and growing economies and demand. In 1998 the European Union reported capital spending of €21 billion, making up a third of global chemicals investment. It was then the largest chemicals investor, dominating the chemicals world ranking at that time. As demonstrated in the graph the EU investment market share lost about two thirds of its original value in 20 years, down from 32.8% in 1998 to 11.8% in 2019.

Thanks to highly advanced technologies, Project ONE will be one of the most energy-efficient and raw materials efficient olefin complexes in Europe. We’ll raise the bar for our peers.

Project ONE’s positive impact on Antwerp and Europe:

  • Bring renewal to the industry with state-of-the-art technology
  • greater competitiveness
  • attracting other investments
  • more jobs
    • 450 direct high-value long-term jobs when the site is operational
    • 15 million man-hours during the construction peak
    • Each Project ONE job will create 5 more at other companies
  • numerous opportunities for local collaborations with engineering and construction partners and local contractors
  • engine for further developing the local economy

Project ONE:
new olefin complex in Antwerp

What is Project ONE?

Project ONE consists of two (olefin) manufacturing plants in the Port of Antwerp:

  • An ethane cracker with a nameplate capacity to produce 1450kt of ethylene per year.
  • A propane dehydrogenation (PDH) unit with a nameplate capacity to manufacture 750kt of propylene per year.

Did you know?
Project ONE is designed to be one of the most efficient and sustainable chemical plants in Europe.
Project ONE is being constructed in Lillo’s industrial area. With INEOS making maximum use of the available space, this project is a perfect example of an expansion project within the current Port footprint

A hyperefficient cluster

In undertaking Project ONE, we will be building and installing similar infrastructure that you would find in any small town or village, including roads and pavements, utilities (water, gas and electricity, drains and sewers), offices and workshops. In addition there will be two manufacturing units, tankage and a significant amount of associated infrastructure. Everything will be connected ingeniously – with all processes as integrated as much as possible for maximum energy-efficiency.

But you don’t build such a site overnight. We’re estimating about 4 – 5 years. A large number of colleagues are working on it.

Ethane cracker

  • Converts the odourless and colourless ethane gas into ethylene.
  • The by-product, hydrogen, is used as a zero CO2 fuel for the furnaces.
  • Environmental footprint: less than half of a conventional (naphtha) cracker of a similar size.
  • Designed, built and transported by ship to the site in modules. These modules can weigh up to 6000 tons and be as large as 50 metres long, 40 metres wide, and 60 metres high.

The propylene installation (PDH unit)

  • Converts propane into propylene via dehydrogenation.
  • The by-product, hydrogen, is recycled to be used as a CO2 free fuel.
  • The gas flows and pipe diameters are so large that an average person can walk through the regeneration airline without bending over.
  • Designed and built in 40 modules. The largest module will weigh 6000 tons.


In order to support our installations, we will build:

  • Pumps and pipes to transport ethylene and propylene.
  • Storage tanks with double encasing. Outer tank made of reinforced concrete
  • An electrical distribution network and kilometres of pipe racks and tracks and cable routes to supply Project ONE with electricity, process and demineralized water and other utilities.
  • Kilometres of new paved roads, footpaths, underground systems and lighting.

Conscious choice for Antwerp

Constructing Project ONE in Europe, and more specifically, in the port of Antwerp? That’s a conscious choice. It has been a home of the wider Ineos group for some time now.

  • nine separate production sites (with lab) and three sales offices in Belgium. R&D operation in Neder-over-Heembeek.
  • including seven separate production sites in and close to Antwerp: Doel, Geel, Lillo (2), Zandvliet (2) and Zwijndrecht
  • employing around 2500 people

Project ONE: why in Antwerp?

  • Strategic location: industrial area with deep-sea access and with connections to the large olefin pipeline networks in north-western Europe.
  • Excellent relationships with the port community.
  • Fully committed to innovation with highly educated and technically trained employees.
  • Project ONE gives a significant boost to the competitive position of the Antwerp petrochemical cluster. In the last 20 years, investments of this magnitude have gone exclusively to other regions, especially China. Project ONE breaks this trend and will bring prosperity to the Antwerp region. By attracting additional investments and creating 450 permanent, high-quality jobs.
Did you know?
The INEOS story began in 1998 in Zwijndrecht, in the Port of Antwerp.

Reducing the impact of Project ONE

The olefins (ethylene and propylene) that we will produce will have an environmental footprint that is less than half of the average European naphtha cracker.

We are able to do this thanks to:

conversion efficiency of raw materials

In the design of the ethane cracker and PDH unit, very ‘selective’ technologies have been chosen that contribute to a maximum conversion of the raw materials into high-quality chemicals. This results in a particularly high carbon-efficiency of more than 90% – which is much higher than in installations that use naphtha (crude oil component) instead of ethane or propane. This means that 90% (or more) of the carbon in the raw material is converted into a high-quality chemical building block.

maximum energy-efficiency

We are aiming and designing for optimal integration: the coolness of the raw materials and the heat from the furnaces of the ethane installation are used elsewhere to save energy.

much smaller CO2 footprint

The CO2 footprint of Project ONE’s installations (the ethane cracker and PDH units) based on ethane and propane gas is less than half of the European naphtha crackers for the same volume of production of chemicals with high added value (the so-called High Value Chemicals or HVC).

  • Selective processes: for every ton of carbon that we put into the process, almost a ton of High Value Chemicals comes out.
  • Ethane installation = benchmark for carbon footprint as its CO2 emissions are less than half of the next best steam crackers in Europe
  • The hydrogen that is generated during the production of ethylene and propylene (more than 100,000 tons of per year) will be used as environmentally friendly fuel. This reduces our carbon footprint substantially, displacing traditional hydrocarbon-based fuels.
  • PDH unit: due to a high degree of electrification we can benefit from the grid becoming greener in Belgium
  • Project ONE is designed to be ‘carbon capture ready’.
  • The supply of our raw materials via our ultra-modern ships also contributes towards reducing our carbon footprint. The same holds for the transport of our products via pipelines.

Building blocks for a better life

Ethylene and propylene – or olefins – are invisible and present everywhere in our daily lives. They are the building blocks for essential materials that are used in a wide variety of sectors:

  • Construction:
    water, gas and sewer pipes that last at least 50 years, cable insulation, insulating foam, …
  • Household appliances:
    components within vacuum cleaners, washing machines, …
  • Healthcare:
    medicines, syringes, oxygen masks, face shields, gloves, disinfectant hand gel, …
  • Automotive sector:
    lightweight parts for bumpers, interior upholstery and trim, battery holders, …
  • Renewable energy:
    lubricants and blades for wind turbines, solar panels, …
  • Packaging industry:
    beverage crates, stock boxes, film to meet hygiene and sterile conditions for food and medical applications  …

So much more than plastic

Project ONE will produce  the gaseous building blocks for all kinds of applications in chemistry – so much more than just plastic. The image of plastic is being challenged nowadays, but it is indispensable in our modern lives: to reduce food waste, keep medical equipment sterile, and save energy, for example.

Plastic itself is not bad – but handling it irresponsibly is. That’s why, at INEOS, we are dedicating ourselves to the responsible use of our materials. And why we’re making an important contribution to the circular economy with our recycling programmes.

This is how we’re doing it

Did you know?
Propylene is a basic raw material for the production of isopropanol. Ethylene for ethanol. Each is a vital ingredient for disinfectant hand gels and alcohol wipes – which are indispensable during the corona pandemic.

Are plastics really the root of all ecological evil?

According to Prof. Kim Ragaert from  Universiteit Gent it is about time we put more facts and less emotion in the plastics shaming debate which is going on. Watching her ‘Plastics Rehab’ TED talk is definitely an eye-opener.

Do not go blindly to war on plastics because they are the most visibly littered material. Plastic waste should be reduced, not plastics. 80% of plastic waste dumped in nature is generated by us, humans.

Realize that plastics  are functional and precious resources which we should keep in the materials loop. Is food packaging really necessary? Well, less than 2 grams of plastic package protect a cucumber. This will extend its ‘shelf life’ by eleven days! A little bit of plastic will prevent a whole lot of food waste.

Plastic haters should consider the environmental footprint of the alternatives: if we were to ban all plastic packaging and replace it with the alternatives (paper, glass, aluminum) the amount of materials and energy required would explode (materials x3,6; energy x2,2). As a result C02 emissions would almost triple.

Be sure to watch this TEDTalk

Ted Talk

At a glance

the lifecycle carbon emission

of producing ethylene and propylene in our unit is less than half of producing the equivalent amount of product in a naphtha cracker

more than 2 million tons of olefins (ethylene and propylene)

produced by Project ONE per year


produced during the conversion of ethane to ethylene and propane to propylene and used as environmentally friendly (carbon-free) fuel on the plants


Q1 2019

Announcement of investment

2019 – 2020

Engineering work underway and permit applications submitted

Q1 2021

Start building PDH unit

Q3 2022

Start building ethane cracker