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. Company 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.