Botlek becomes Vopak's styrene hub
The six tanks for Vopak terminal Botlek are part of the expansion announced at the beginning of 2018 involving a total of fifteen stainless-steel storage tanks, Port of Rotterdam said in its release. They are being built 'fit-for-purpose’, geared to the storage of styrene. As a result, pipeline infrastructure and tanks will be well insulated to safeguard quality. If necessary, the tanks can also be used for a range of other chemicals.
‘For our Botlek terminal, this is a huge modernisation step,’ says Walter Moone, managing director Vopak Chemie Nederland. ‘Here we are concentrating on the storage of styrene, which until now has always been distributed over our terminals. This will make it even easier to guarantee the quality of the product, and it is less necessary to clean tanks. Better for the environment and better for the purse.’
Styrene is usually delivered overseas and then transported in smaller volumes to the European hinterland. Moone: ‘It might surprise many people, but chemistry plays an important role in improving sustainability and the energy transition. For example, styrene is important for making insulation material for houses as well as lighter car parts, like bumpers and dashboards, thus reducing energy consumption.’
According to Moone, Rotterdam was an obvious choice as a styrene hub. ‘Much of the styrene is already shipped via Rotterdam. Just like products such as ethanol and methanol, it is a large-volume chemical product. The port of Rotterdam is perfect for that. It has enough depth to enable the delivery of large volumes as well as excellent connections by inland vessels, trains or trucks to transport it further. Furthermore, demand for the product in Europe is also rising slightly.’
The fifteen tanks will replace old tanks that were dismantled around ten years ago. ‘Our Botlek terminal, and that applies to other Rotterdam chemical sector infrastructure, has been in operation for a long time. Within Vopak, we have embarked on an ambitious long-term programme aimed at modernisation and the addition of new capacity. One of the options we are exploring is the storage of hydrogen. In that respect, Rotterdam has great potential, and Vopak has recently acquired a stake in Hydrogenious LOHC Technologies, for a new development of transport and storage of hydrogen. There are plenty of opportunities for new developments in Rotterdam.’