Ineos has announced that its planned construction of the ‘greenest’ cracker in Europe has further advanced with a €3.5 billion funding commitment now in place.
Called Project ONE, the new cracker represents the largest investment in the European chemical sector for a generation, the company said.
The deal is supported by 21 commercial banks, illustrating the strong commercial rationale of the project and its environmental contribution. It comprises €1.5 billion of uncovered debt, €1.2 billion of covered facilities from export credit agencies UKEF, Cesce and SACE; and an €800 million covered tranche of which up to €500 million is guaranteed by Gigarant (a vehicle of the Flemish Government that provides loan guarantees), and will be drawn in stages to support the spend profile of the project through to completion.
Securing this funding is a milestone, said Jason Meers, CFO Ineos Project ONE. “Bringing together such a large number of environmentally focused commercial banks alongside four governmental agencies demonstrates the huge importance of the project.”
The projected cracker will be built in Antwerp and produce ethylene. It will have the lowest carbon footprint of all European crackers: five times better than the worst in Europe and two times better than the best. Moreover, the plant is designed to use hydrogen, which it will do as soon as enough becomes available. With room for a carbon capture facility and future electric furnaces, the cracker will, in the future, have a zero carbon footprint.
Calling it a game changer for Europe, Meers emphasised that the facility will bring ‘new opportunities to the chemical cluster in Antwerp as well as strengthen the resilience of the whole of the European chemical sector’.
The project constitutes a total investment of around €4 billion in the port of Antwerp, employing 2,500 workers on site at the peak of construction, creating 450 new jobs (300 payroll, 150 permanent contractors) and thousands of indirect jobs. Construction is expected to take four years – with start-up expected in 2026.