SHELL NEDERLAND CHEMIE B.V.
Company / Shell Nederland Chemie B.V. (SNC) is an operating company of
the Royal Dutch/Shell Group. SNC manufactures petroleum-based chemical
products, commonly known as petrochemicals. It is the task of SNC’s
approximate 1500 employees to manufacture these petrochemicals efficiently,
safely and in an environmentally responsible way. They do this at two large
sites in the Netherlands: the industrial complexes at Moerdijk and Pernis.
The Royal Dutch/Shell Group has operating companies in around 140
countries, employs more than 110,000 people and is active in the fields of
petroleum, (liquefied) natural gas, petrochemicals, electricity and sustainable
energy. This makes it an energy company in the broadest sense of the word.
The Royal Dutch/Shell Group was formed in 1907 as the result of an alliance
between Royal Dutch Petroleum Company and The Shell Transport and Trading
Company Limited. The company is 60% Dutch-owned and 40% British-owned.
In logistic terms, Moerdijk’s location alongside the
Hollandsch Diep is highly advantageous.
One company, two sites
Historically, Shell has been manufacturing a growing
number of petroleum products from crude oil at Pernis
ever since 1936. The development of petrochemicals such
as nylon and plastics underwent massive expansion
following World War II, and Shell constructed its first
chemical plants for liquid synthetic detergent and PVC
close to the refinery in 1949. This marked the start of
many years of steady growth of Shell’s chemicals business,
due in part to the strategic location of Pernis and the
post-War consumer boom. SNC was set up as an
independent company in 1959.
Pernis had run out of space for new chemical plants by the
end of the 1960s and Shell started to look for a new site.
The location eventually chosen was an industrial site
forming part of the port of Moerdijk, which was under
development at that time. This site could be greatly
expanded to accommodate Shell.
An important factor in this choice was geographical
location: the Moerdijk site is situated relatively close to
Shell Pernis, between the industrial centres of Antwerp
and Rotterdam. It was relatively easy to link Pernis to
Modern glycol ether plant at Pernis.
Moerdijk by means of underground pipelines, for the fast
and safe delivery of feedstocks and products from one site
to the other. Another argument in favour of Moerdijk was
accessibility: Moerdijk can be easily reached by road, rail
SNC’s two major sites used to be fairly independent of one
another, but the ongoing drive towards greater business
efficiency in Royal Dutch/Shell Group companies resulted
in SNC coming under single management in 2001.
The basis for all kinds of products / SNC manufactures base chemicals
originating from crude oil. Naphtha and gas oil (and other products) are
produced from crude oil; with LPG, these are the most important feedstocks
for SNC’s plants. Pipelines convey these feedstocks from Shell’s Pernis
refinery to Moerdijk, where SNC processes them into base chemicals, some of
which are piped back to Pernis for further processing. So SNC makes hardly
any ready-for-use products; other companies work up these base chemicals into
end products such as plastics, cosmetics, vehicle parts, pharmaceuticals and
synthetic fibres (viscose etc.), insulation materials, latex paints and
antifreeze - indispensable products for our day-to-day use. The combined
production capacity of SNC plants at both locations is almost 7 million tonnes
per year. Most products are exported, both inside and outside Europe.
The basis for all kinds of products
The Moerdijk cracker.
The first building phase in Moerdijk started in 1970
and involved an investment of what would now be about
500 million euros in plants, offices, workshops, a
laboratory, stores and a training centre. The second
building phase commenced in 1976, when the equivalent
of more than 400 million euros was invested in new
plants, general facilities and services.
The third building phase started in 1998 with the
construction of a second styrene and propylene oxide plant
requiring an investment of the equivalent of 450 million
euros. Subsequently, the production capacity of the
ethylene plant was almost doubled. Construction of a
benzene-extraction unit was commenced in 2001, and this
unit is now on stream.
All these investments have resulted in a chemical complex
with a unique zoned layout: the plants are located in the
centre of the site, separated by ‘service strips’
accommodating facilities such as the offices, workshops
and laboratory. Storage, loading and unloading facilities
are located at the edge of the complex. This means that
the personnel and means of transport moving raw
materials in and products out are kept away from the
The Pernis glycol
The Moerdijk benzene
production area as much as possible.
The closest residential areas are Klundert and
Noordschans, 1200 and 700 metres respectively from the
The situation at Pernis is somewhat more complicated.
Shell Pernis has developed into an industrial complex
occupying 425 hectares, surrounded by large and small
residential areas like Pernis, Hoogvliet, Spijkenisse,
Rhoon/Poortugaal, Vlaardingen and Schiedam. Its various
chemical plants are somewhat dwarfed by the massive and
extensive oil refining plant and equipment. And some of
these chemical plants are no longer owned by SNC but
have been sold to new owners. SNC continues to supply
many of the feedstocks for these plants, and both SNC and
SNR (Shell Nederland Raffinaderij) provide various
services to these new owners.
Over the years however, regular investments have also
been made at Pernis to expand capacity and enhance
product quality. In particular, this has resulted in two new
polyol plants and one new solvents plant.
Shell companies aspire to achieve world-class performance. They also aim to be good employers in order to earn and
retain their licence to operate.
Shell acknowledges its responsibility both to its own employees and to the immediate environment within which every
Shell company operates. Sustainable development is key to this, and must be achieved through the interplay of
economic development (growth), care for nature and the environment and corporate social responsibility. The policy
principles that ensue from this are taken into consideration in all decisions regarding investments and company
activities. The objective is the ongoing development of new improved techniques and processes.
■ Ethylene plant for ethylene and propylene production.
This is the basic plant (‘cracker’) that uses naphtha, gas
oil or LPG as its feedstock. The following products and
by-products are also formed in the cracker: raw gasoline,
LPG, a C4 hydrocarbon stream and several other
hydrocarbon streams, including an ethyne stream and a
heavy residue fraction. The other production facilities
re-use many of these by-products, while the heavy residue
is used mainly as fuel.
The other production facilities, some of which are
integrated with the cracker, are:
■ A hydrogenization plant, in which the raw gasoline is
further treated with hydrogen. The product is delivered to
third parties to make motor gasoline and solvents, etc.
■ A butadiene extraction plant, which extracts butadiene
from the untreated C4 stream from the cracker. Butadiene
is used to make synthetic rubber and other end products.
■ A benzene extraction plant, which removes benzene
from certain product streams from the cracker and oil
refining processes. Most of the benzene is further
processed in the ethyl benzene plant (see below).
■ A plant manufacturing butylene by selective butadiene
hydrogenization. Butylene is used to make polymers
and adhesives, etc.
■ An ethylene oxide and glycols plant, in which ethylene
is the main feedstock. Some of the ethylene oxide is sold,
some is converted into glycols which are used in synthetic
fibres, antifreeze and other end products.
■ A vinyl ester plant, which produces vinyl ester from the
feedstocks ethyne (from the cracker) and versatic acid
(from Pernis). Vinyl ester is a basic constituent of latex
■ An ethyl benzene plant which converts ethylene (from
the cracker) and benzene into ethyl benzene.
■ Two styrene and propylene oxide plants, in which the
feedstocks are ethyl benzene and propylene (with air).
Styrene is used to make polystyrene and synthetic rubber,
while propylene oxide is a starting material for
polyurethane, antifreeze and other products.
■ Two catalyst production plants. One of the catalysts
used in the styrene and propylene oxide plants is produced
in these plants.
The Pernis plants largely run on feedstocks produced in
Moerdijk and conveyed by pipeline to Pernis. They can be
classified as follows:
■ Plants that produce versatics (synthetic carboxylic
acids) from olefins, carbon monoxide and water, and
polyols from ethylene oxide, propylene oxide, glycerol,
styrene and other substances. Versatics are used to make
synthetic resins and paints, etc., while polyols are starting
constituents for hard and soft foams for bedding, furniture
and packaging and insulating materials.
■ Plants for the manufacture of a very wide range of
solvents and derivatives; their feedstocks include ethylene
oxide, propylene oxide, propylene, butane/butylene,
methanol, butanol and kerosene. The products include
glycol ethers, acetone, MEK, MTBE, hexane and heptane.
Their applications are very diverse: brake fluid, antifreeze,
artificial sweeteners, cosmetics, ink, lacquers and
varnishes, and hydraulic fluid.
■ Monomer and elastomer plants (elastomers are
rubber-like materials) with butadiene and styrene as the
main feedstocks. SNC is the operator and owner of the
monomer plants while the elastomer plants are owned by
Modern polyols plant at Pernis.
■ Polypropene plant, which is 50 per cent Shell-owned.
Large numbers of small propylene molecules (from
cracking processes) are chained to form macromolecules
of polypropylene, one of the most widely used plastics.
Although most feedstocks and
products are moved by pipeline and
waterway, many tonnes of products
are shipped to customers by rail or
Electricity, steam, flares / At Moerdijk, SNC has its own co-generation plant,
which generates a large proportion of the electricity the site needs. Any
additional power required is drawn from the national grid. Steam is also raised
on-site by this co-generation plant and several processing plants. Any more
steam that may be required comes from a co-generation plant located close by.
At Pernis, SNC is supplied with electricity, steam and other utilities by SNR.
It has been agreed with the Dutch government that SNC will have world-class
energy-efficient processes in place by the year 2012.
Plants in Moerdijk and Pernis are connected to flaring systems. Flares are tall
stacks that prevent uncombusted gas from entering the atmosphere during
start-up and shutdown and in case of malfunctions; the only way to dispose of
gases rapidly, safely and in an environmentally friendly way is to burn them at
a great height. SNC strives to minimize any nuisance in the immediate vicinity.
Electricity, steam, flares
Elektriciteit, stoom, fak-
A network providing water for fire-fighting is installed
in and around the plants and other units and offices. All
the plants are also connected to sewer systems.
Wastewater and process water from the various plants are
treated before being discharged into the surface water. At
Pernis, this is done in SNR’s treatment units. Water to be
discharged from the Moerdijk plant is pretreated on site,
and further treatment is carried out off-site by the West
Brabant Water Board.
The production processes generate a great deal of heat and
this is recycled internally wherever possible. However,
some has to be discharged as waste heat in the cooling
water, which is drawn from the Oude Maas and Nieuwe
Maas rivers (Pernis) and the Hollandsch Diep (Moerdijk).
The vast majority of feedstocks and finished products are
delivered on site and shipped off-site by pipeline and
waterway. Road and rail tankers account for
approximately 10 per cent of the volume.
Specially equipped storage sites allow the temporary
storage of packaged waste products before they are
removed to authorized treatment and disposal sites.
Flaring system at Pernis.
Health, Safety, Well-being and the Environment
The aspects of health, safety, well-being and the
environment take a central role throughout operational
management. The people working in Moerdijk and Pernis
must be able to do so safely. And people living in the
vicinity and our customers must also be confident that they
will not suffer any harmful consequences from SNC’s
activities and products. The company has a clear policy,
with clearly defined procedures and guidelines to meet the
strict criteria for health, safety, well-being and the
environment. Its norms and values demand full compliance
with health, safety, well-being and environment rules,
exemplary leadership and teamwork on the part of
employees, and customer-focus and good relations with
business partners, government and local residents.
The results relating to health, safety, well-being and the
environment are communicated each year in a public
report. More information about this is available on our
website, as well as the full text of the most recent annual
Working with others / Various companies in the vicinity of SNC’s Moerdijk
and Pernis sites purchase products from SNC and process them further. This
has economic advantages, and more importantly involves fewer risks for people
and the environment due to the short distances the hazardous materials are
transported through pipelines.
And there is, of course, close partnership with Shell Nederland Raffinaderij in
Pernis, which not only provides most of SNC’s feedstocks but also renders
various services, in particular for the Pernis site.
Working with others
Impermeable paving limits
the consequences of any
Information about nuisance
Despite all the precautionary measures, incidents may
occasionally occur. This might cause a nuisance to people
both on and off-site, and beyond the perimeter fence
people may be inconvenienced by noxious odours, noise
and flaring. In addition to these incidents, maintenance
and other work may also constitute a nuisance. If it is
obvious that particular activities will cause a nuisance,
Shell informs the neighbourhood in advance. Information
is also provided as rapidly as possible when incidents do
occur. That is not always easy as it usually takes some
time before the causes have been traced and appropriate
The second styrene and propylene oxide
plant at Moerdijk.
Shell does all it can to alleviate people’s concerns by
providing as much information as it can as soon as it can.
Obviously, we still consider any incident to be one too
many and therefore give the highest priority to prevention.
This is a publication of Shell Nederland Chemie B.V.
Text: Public Affairs department of Shell Nederland Raffinaderij B.V.
Design: Volcano Advertising
Photography: Ernst Bode
You may still have questions and/or comments after reading this brochure. Please feel free to
contact the Public Affairs department, tel. +31 (0)10-4314127 or +31 (0)168-355520,
fax +31 (0)10-4313982. You can also respond via the website: www.shell.nl, or by e-mail to
firstname.lastname@example.org, or in writing to one of the addresses below:
Shell Nederland Raffinaderij B.V.
Public Affairs department
PO Box 3000
3190 GA Hoogvliet
PO Box 6060
4780 LN Moerdijk
For information about Shell around the world, we recommend that you visit our website