(EnergyAsia, June 5, Thursday) — Anglo Dutch Shell said it expects to make major investment in the Asia Pacific’s petrochemicals sector, said Shell Chemicals executive vice president Ben van Beurden.

Describing this as the most exciting region for petrochemicals, he said rapid economic growth in very populous countries such as China and India is making Asia the focus for new capacity investments.

As regional petrochemicals development continues, the industry will face significant challenges relating to energy and feedstock availability and to climate change, particularly carbon dioxide emissions.

He said Asia Pacific’s chemicals sector possesses the technological creativity and is attracting and nurturing the talent that together will enable these challenges to be met.

Mr. van Beurden underlined Shell chemicals companies’ commitment to the region, citing newly-completed and ongoing projects in Singapore and China. He also mentioned plans under consideration for significant new manufacturing investments – including a world-scale styrene monomer/propylene oxide project – to strengthen Shell’s regional product and service portfolio to meet customers’ future needs.

By 2010, around 30% of Shell’s chemicals manufacturing assets will be located in Asia Pacific and the Middle East, and focused primarily on supplying the burgeoning Asia Pacific market.

Shell believes the global petrochemicals industry must face three hard truths, Mr. van Beurden said. These include a likely doubling of energy demand by 2050, while conventional energy resources will become harder and more costly to access. While alternative energy sources will expand, more unconventional oil resources, such as oil shale and sands, will be needed.
“CO2 emissions are rising even faster than demand for energy,” he said. “And unless we take quick action, the concentration of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere could reach levels which would have serious climate change consequences.”

The industry is working to reduce energy use and CO2 emissions, while companies like Shell are developing commercial carbon and capture and storage systems. But broad governmental agreement on policies and support are needed to accelerate the effective implementation of these technological solutions.

Despite these tough challenges, he said: “We can and will develop new energy resources. We can and will develop new feedstock routes. And we have already shown an ability to increase our energy efficiency and reduce the environmental footprints of our plants and processes.

“In the coming years, we will need to apply all our creative talents to the full, and in co-operation with the wider scientific community, other industries and governments, to make sustainability a reality.

“Given the growth and dynamism of Asia-Pacific’s petrochemicals industry, I expect to see developments in this region that will help transform our business and enable us to respond to the challenges we face. The region’s industry has a deep and growing pool of highly creative, capable and focused talent, and I can tell you that from a Shell perspective we are very excited about the future.”