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8 January 2024

Positive decision by minister Demir ends uncertainty and unleashes start of project of the future at port of Antwerp

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Minister Demir gives green light to Project ONE

With the granting of an environmental permit for Project ONE, the way is open for the construction and operation of Europe’s most sustainable ethane cracker. This decision finally brings clarity to all INEOS Olefins Belgium employees and subcontractors involved, and gives hope to other companies in Flanders with similar projects. INEOS believes in the importance of local chemical production on the European continent and is therefore investing in its renewal. The permit for Project ONE allows INEOS to further realise this vision.

In developing this production site in Antwerp, INEOS will comply with the strictest environmental regulations. The site will contribute to the renewal and sustainability of the chemical cluster in Flanders. Indeed, the proposed ethane cracker in the port of Antwerp is the most sustainable of its kind: the carbon emissions of the cracker are as much as three times lower than those of the average European cracker. Compared to the 10% best-performing plants in Europe, Project ONE’s cracker emits less than half, thanks to the application of best available techniques and maximum energy efficiency.

In October, INEOS Olefins Belgium submitted a request to amend the permit application in response to the Council for Permit Disputes’ ruling of 20 July 2023, which annulled the permit granted on 7 June 2022. INEOS thoroughly addressed the Council’s comments in non-evident circumstances. In doing so, INEOS followed a concrete, ecological and scientific approach. The most voluminous appropriate assessment to date of no less than 800 pages was delivered to this end.

The minister’s decision of 7 January 2024 reconfirms on appeal the environmental permit for which the initial application already dates from July 2021. This is a great relief for the thousands of employees worldwide involved in the preparatory work for Project ONE, as well as for the various companies and subcontractors involved in the construction of the plant in Antwerp. Meanwhile, the ethane cracker has become a symbolic file. The decision whether or not to realise this project had far-reaching consequences for the future of the chemical cluster in Antwerp. With the positive decision, a new chapter can begin.

The European Commission’s goals of strategic autonomy, sustainability and competitiveness align seamlessly with those of Project ONE. INEOS believes that companies that embrace these goals hold the key to the future. Project ONE can ignite a renaissance of European industry. It is the largest grassroot investment in the European chemical industry in 20 years. It will reinforce the Port of Antwerp’s role as Europe’s largest chemical cluster and will contribute to Europe’s ​ strategic autonomy at the beginning of the value chain.

John McNally, CEO of INEOS Project ONE, stated:
“We thank Minister Demir for her decision. The pandemic and the energy crisis have demonstrated Europe’s vulnerability in terms of industrial building blocks. Strategic autonomy is therefore central to the European Commission’s vision. Project ONE is at the beginning of this value chain. It anchors the local processing of essential building blocks, such as ethylene, thus contributing to the resilience and sustainability of Europe’s industrial foundations. With the realisation of Project ONE, Flanders and the port of Antwerp can play a role in making European industry more sustainable.”

About Project ONE

Project ONE is an investment by INEOS in the Antwerp chemical sector for the construction of an ethane cracker. The investment amounts to over four billion euros, making it the largest investment in European chemistry in more than 20 years. The advanced plant will produce ethylene, one of the most widely used basic chemicals worldwide and an essential building block for a variety of products, found in medical applications, textiles, computer and smartphone casings, household appliances, packaging to preserve food longer and cosmetics. It is also used in lightweight parts for cars and wind turbines, insulation materials for the construction industry or pipes for transporting drinking water.

Project ONE will raise the standard for the chemical sector in Europe by deploying best available techniques. In particular, the investment will pioneer energy efficiency and have a carbon footprint less than half that of the 10% best steam crackers in Europe.

The end of 2026 is targeted as the start of operation. The investment in Lillo will create 450 direct jobs and thousands of indirect jobs. At the peak of construction work, some 2,500 workers will be employed at the Antwerp site.