Professional Training

Understanding the International Petrochemicals Business - Technology, Markets and Economics

3 days
3 days
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Course description

The organic chemical industry centres on the relationships between raw materials, intermediates, end products and applications. Basic to these relationships are chemical reactions, and fundamental to the total business is economics. To be able to work successfully within this complex industry requires a combination of practical experience with an understanding of chemistry, markets and economics. The course offers an organised overview of the industry that is essential for the successful operations within it.

What you will learn:

  • Insight into the "broad picture"
  • Understanding of the concepts the industry has evolved
  • Understanding of the economics of the industry
  • The refining-petrochemical interface and the origin of the industry-s seven basic raw materials
  • Understanding of the value chains that flow from the seven basic raw materials
  • Who the major players are and their role in the massive restructuring the industry is undergoing

There are no pre-requisites for this course, nor is any advanced preparation required.

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Class delegates include chemists, engineers commercial, sales and purchasing staff. Also, research and development, marketing and planning personnel, chemical industry administrators who wish to increase their knowledge and experience of the chemical reactions, feedstock, markets, key players, and basic economics of the industry. Additionally, associated services including finance and banking staff, legal, government agencies, on-line services will benefit.


Chemical Industry Overview

  • What the industry makes
  • Restructuring
  • Profitability
  • The major players

The Petroleum Refinery

  • Steam cracking
  • Distillation
  • Catalytic cracking
  • Catalytic reforming
  • The refinery/petrochemical interface

Natural and Associated Gas

The Petrochemical Industry-s Basic Raw Materials Seven Major Groups

  • Chemistry, production economics, feedstock sources and changes, applications and supply/demand balance

Ethylene - Sources and Reactions

  • Polymerisation, oligomerisation, a-olefins, detergent alcohols
  • Oxidation- Wacker reaction (acetaldehyde, vinyl acetate, acetic acid, acetic anhydride, PVA)
  • Ethylene oxide/ethylene glycol/polyesters
  • Vinyl chloride/poly (vinyl chloride)
  • Styrene/polystyrene
  • Ethanol

Propylene - Sources and Reactions

  • Polymerisation, oligomerisation, oxidation reactions (acrylic acid, propylene oxide), ammoxidation, cumene hydroperoxide (phenol, acetone), oxo reactions, hydration, metathesis
  • Shell Higher Olefins Process

C4 Unsaturates - Sources and reactions

  • Butadiene - polymerisation, elastomers, "living" polymers, hexamethylenediamine; nylon intermediates; chloroprene; maleic anhydride; butenes -1 and -2, isobutylenes and MTBE
  • The Clean Air Act

Benzene - Sources and Reactions

  • Styrene, phenol, cyclohexane, adipic acid, caprolactam, nylons, MDI/PMDI

Toluene - Sources and Reactions

  • Hydrodealkylation, disproportionation, toluene di-isocyanates and urethanes

Xylenes -Sources and Reactions

  • Separation; oxidation; p-xylene, terephthalic acid, PET; fibres and bottles o-xylene, phthalic anhydride polyesters, plasticizers, m-xylene


  • Synthesis gas
  • Ammonia; urea
  • Methanol; formaldehyde, thermoset polymers
  • HCN
  • Chlorination
  • Acetylene and 1,4 Butanediol


  • chemicals and engineering polymers


  • Characteristics of the industry
  • The important concepts the course emphasised

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