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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

and waterway.

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.

Different layouts

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

ether plant.

The Moerdijk benzene

extraction plant.

production area as much as possible.

The closest residential areas are Klundert and

Noordschans, 1200 and 700 metres respectively from the

perimeter fence.

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.

Plant overview


■ 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

other companies.

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

road tanker.

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-

Other facilities

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.

Pernis discharges

large volumes

of treated

process and

cooling water.

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

measures taken.

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

December 2003

Any questions

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

public-affairs-pernis@shell.com, or in writing to one of the addresses below:

Shell Nederland Raffinaderij B.V.

Public Affairs department

PO Box 3000

3190 GA Hoogvliet

The Netherlands

PO Box 6060

4780 LN Moerdijk

The Netherlands

For information about Shell around the world, we recommend that you visit our website


Shell Chemicals

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