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APPEC: Technology, investment key for energy transition in oil-to-chemicals segment

Highlights

Carbon-neutral feedstocks salient to petrochemicals

Participation of integrated companies important in recycling

New technology, sustainable development and investment in products and assets will play a significant role in energy transition in crude oil-to-chemicals manufacturing, industry participants said at the S&P Global Platts Asia Pacific Petroleum Conference, or Platts APPEC, Sept. 28.

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The energy market has been transitioning towards lower emissions and adapting the "energy transition" -- a transformation of the global energy sector from fossil-based systems of energy production and consumption to renewable energy sources.

While the transitioning is picking up, the market for plastics -- made from oil and gas -- is positive and the industry will grow, leading to emphasis on the petrochemicals sector in the future, said Mathew George, General Manager (Corporate Planning), Indian Oil Corporation Ltd.

Adoption of technologies, selective investment and upgrading of products, upgrading of key refining assets will play a major role in the feedstock-to-products in the petrochemicals sector, George said.

Use of carbon-neutral feedstocks is another important aspect in the oil-to-chemicals sphere, said Andreas Schwingshackl, Senior Vice President Supply & Optimization, OMV Downstream GmbH.

"Plastics and chemicals are likely to stay but we have to see what the feedstock is," Schwingshackl said.

An important aspect of the transition is recycling of plastics and chemicals, participants also said.

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For recycling, integration is important and enhanced participation of integrated companies can bring economic advantages in logistics and collection of waste material, among other things, Schwingshackl said.

While Europe is ahead in terms of norms on recycled plastics and its execution, India is also on the path to this transition, especially in PET bottles, industry leaders said.

In India, there needs to be adoption of "some scale" into recycling and the recycling of polymers of low microns needs legislative enforcement, according to Rajesh Rawat, Senior Vice President, Head Cracker Business, Reliance Industries.

While the energy transition is bound to happen, the major challenge with integrated refineries is to optimize a wide set of feedstock on the crude side to get a wide set of petrochemicals, he said.

Adaptation to processes leading carbon neutrality by refineries will be important with a view to sustainability, the participants said.

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