Versalis, the chemical division of Italian oil giant Eni, met last week in Rome with representatives of national and local trade unions to present its business plan for the next four years. According to the company, more than 1.1 billion euros have been spent in the last four years and the plan is to continue with investments focused on four strategic areas: specialization, circularity, chemistry from renewables and efficiency.
The strategy of Eni’s chemical company focuses on innovation by developing proprietary technologies and agreements with partners to speed up transformation, despite a particularly delicate phase in the sector: the performance of the chemical industry is being negatively affected by the high cost of utilities, raw materials and logistics.
The specialization of Versalis’ portfolio is driven primarily by the development of markets and products for the energy transition and for sustainable mobility. Concerning the circular economy, Versalis confirms its commitment to the mechanical and chemical recycling of plastic waste and the continuous development of new markets and applications for the sector of chemistry from renewables.
At the Brindisi and Priolo-Ragusa plants (South Italy), the aim is to integrate cracking plants with the Hoop® technology for the chemical recycling of plastic waste, which will be developed in Mantua (Lombardy), where a 6,000 tonne/year demo plant is currently undergoing authorization. A further investment is planned in Mantua in coloured ABS styrenics for the household appliances sector and an increase in the production capacity of polymers from recycled raw material under the Versalis Revive® brand.
In Ferrara (Emilia-Romagna), the company plans to develop new grades of polyethylene and EPDM rubbers obtained in its modern plant inaugurated four years ago. In Ravenna, a project to increase the production of high value-added elastomers for the tyre and automotive sector is being finalized, and the development of products with recycled raw material content in the Versalis Revive® range continues. Versalis also participates in the joint decarbonization project of the Ravenna and Ferrara district with local industrial partners.
At Porto Marghera (Venice), a plan is underway to redevelop the site with a higher emphasis on specialization and circularity. This involves building Italy’s first isopropyl alcohol plant with an adjoining hydrogen production plant for use in several market sectors, including disinfectants and detergents. In addition, work has begun on the new centre for advanced mechanical recycling of plastics: the first phase, currently awaiting authorization, will involve the construction of a styrenic polymer recycling plant with an annual capacity of 20,000 tons, with technology and assets acquired from Ecoplastic; the second will involve the construction of a polystyrene and high-density polyethylene recycling plant with an annual capacity of 50,000 tons with technology acquired from Forever Plast.
Development is also the keyword for the company’s two sites for chemistry from renewables: at Crescentino (Piedmont), in addition to the production of Invix® disinfectant, where the next four years of operations will focus on the production of advanced bioethanol for biofuels, on the processing of vegetable waste to produce biomethane, and on research projects to produce bio-plastics and bio-chemicals from second-generation sugars. In Porto Torres (Sardinia), the Matrìca platform is developing products and markets such as biocides and bioherbicides for agriculture, cosmetics and animal feeding.
Drawing on the expertise of its people and 400 technologists and researchers, Versalis – the company claims – spent more than 50 million euros on R&D in 2021 alone, with a growing commitment to focusing on the energy transition and on sustainability.