History

1967

The Geel site is established on 16 March 1967, with the name Amoco Chemicals Belgium NV. An area of 93 ha, later expanded to 115 ha, is purchased on the Geel industrial estate.The Geel site is established on 16 March 1967, with the name Amoco Chemicals Belgium NV. An area of 93 ha, later expanded to 115 ha, is purchased on the Geel industrial estate.

1969

The units for the production of purified terephthalic acid (PTA1) and dimethyl terephthalate (DMT - closed down in 1988) come on line. The utilities (the so-called OSBL or Outside Battery Limits) are started in the same year.

1972

This is what the admin building looked like then.

1973

Isophthalic acid production starts.

1974

Start of company magazine 'Amoco nieuws' (6 pages -quarterly), now called Team, the present publication for BP in Geel' employees.

1977

Polypropylene (PP) production starts in the PP1 unit.

1980

Distribution of trimellite anhydride (TMLA) starts.

1985

Introduction of quality improvement process, based on Crosby principals.

1988

The DMT (dimethyl terephthalate) unit ceases production.

1989

  • Start-up of compounding unit polysulfones operations (European Compounding Line).
  • Start-up of the so-called 'Groene Telefoon' (free-of-charge telephone line for local community) (September). The picture features the then Mayor of Geel Maria Dams and plant manager Hugo Viaene.

1991

  • Start-up of second purified terephthalic acid production unit (PTA2) with a capacity of 250,000 tonnes.
  • First ISO 9002-certificate obtained for units PP1, PTA1 and IPA.

1990

Start-up of 'Milieuforum' (environmental contact group) - first meeting on 26 September 1990.

1992

  • Purified isophthalic acid (PIA) production starts.
  • Closure of compounding unit polysulfones (European Compounding Line).
  • PTA2 unit receives ISO 9002 certificate.

1995

PTA2 production capacity increased to 350,000 tonnes.

1996

  • Start-up of second polypropylene production unit (PP2).
  • PP2 unit obtains ISO 9002 certificate.

1997

  • Operation of co-generation unit starts.
  • Expansion of capacity water treatment unit (due to PTA3).
  • ISO 9002 certificate is renewed (18 July) for PP, PTA and PIA units.

1998

  • Start-up of third purified terephthalic acid unit production (PTA3).
  • PP2 capacity increases from 200,000 to 270,000 tonnes per year.
  • Introduction of the information magazine 'Buren' (Neighbours).
  • Fire dehydration column PTA3 (24 September).
  • Open house on Sunday 4 October.
  • Merger Amoco and BP into BP Amoco on 31 December 1998.

1999

PTA3 unit obtains ISO 9002 certificate.

2000

  • In April 2000, the group is renamed BP and a few months later, in July, the new logo is introduced.
  • In the first quarter of 2000 the PX unit (paraxylene) becomes operational.
  • First certification according to ISO 14001 (environmental care system) for the biggest part of the site (December).

2001

  • The PIA unit is further extended to a multipurpose unit.
  • Renewal ISO 9002 certificates for units PP1, PP2, PTA2, PTA3 and PIA (June - auditor is Lloyd's).
  • Units PTA3, PX and Maintenance Chemicals obtain the ISO 14001 certificate. With this the whole site is ISO 14001 certified (June).
  • Take-over of Solvay's polypropylene activities (1 November). Through this take-over, a part of the Solvay establishment in the port of Antwerp, (in Lillo to be more precise), becomes part of BP as well as the product related R&D activities in Neder-over-Heembeek (near Brussels).
  • On 1 November, BP and Solvay start a polyethylene joint venture. Also for this product there are employees in the research centre of Neder-over-Heembeek.
  • BP in Geel administratively supports about 80 new staff members coming from Solvay.
  • Capacity extension of PTA3 (purified terephthalic acid) by means of debottlenecking from 500,000 to 650,000 tonnes per year. Owing to this extension, the total annual production capacity of the site increases to over 2 million tonnes (November-December).

2002

  • Introduction of the BP in Geel website (April).
  • Open house on Saturday 4 May.
  • BP in Geel is re-permitted (licence to operate) for the following 20 years (24 November).
  • No lost time accidents in 2002. A first in the history of the site.

2003

  • Introduction of the BP in Geel website in English (February).
  • BP announces at a press conference the construction of a new PTA4 unit in Geel (27 March).
  • Certification ISO 9001:2000 for all production units.
  • Re-certification ISO 14001:1996 for the entire site.
  • On 17 October the E313 noise barrier is finished after about 6 weeks of work.
  • The magazine Buren celebrates its fifth anniversary in December.
  • There are two lost time accidents in 2003.

2004

  • The BP Group announces its intention to consolidate the Olefins & Derivates (O&D) division of its petrochemicals business in a separate entity, which will operate independently from the BP Group. This includes the Geel production of polypropylene. (27 April)
  • The sale of the BP Performance Chemicals Business, which includes the PIA-business (purified isophthalic acid), to Flint Hills Resources is a fact. (28 May)
  • The BP Group announces the postponement of the PTA4 project. (15 June)
  • The BP in Geel site concludes one year without a lost time accident. The site however fails to finish the calendar year in that manner: on 17 November the first and only LTA in 2004 occurs. (30 September)
  • The Milieuforum (environmental contact group) convenes for the last time in its 15 years existence. With the legally enforced 'Overlegcommissie' there is too much overlap and the effort to continue both assemblies is deemed unjustified. (17 November)

2005

  • The Olefins & Derivates (O&D) division of BP is consolidated in a separate entity by the name 'Innovene'. For BP in Geel this means that all polypropylene activities on site operate independently under the name Innovene. Later in 2005 BP will announce unexpectedly that it has agreed to sell Innovente to INEOS instead of an IPO. (21 March)
  • BP in Geel starts the construction of a Cobalt Recovery Unit (CRU). This CRU will be able to recuperate about 80 % of BP's cobalt consumption. (March)
  • For the fourth time the Katholieke Hogeschool Kempen (a university) holds a survey on behalf of BP. Results show that less than before environmental problems are experienced. However there is still considerable distrust towards the chemical industry in general and towards BP, as the largest local site, in particular. (April)
  • The paraxylene unit (PX) get its first Turnaround (TAR) in its history. (September and October)
  • BP announces the completion of the sale of the petrochemical division Innovene to INEOS. The sale of Innovene is the biggest separation in BP's history. (16 December)
  • Again, no lost time accidents in a full calendar year. (31 December)

2006

  • The capacity of the PX unit is expanded to 610,000 tonnes of paraxylene per annum. (16 March)
  • The BP site in Geel achieves 500 days without lost time accident. (3 April)
  • De BP Group announces the continuation of the project to expand the production of purified terephthalic acid in Geel. (12 April)
  • Open days are held at the occasion of the 'Zondag van de Chemie' (Chemistry Sunday). On Sunday some 1700 visitors show up. The day before already 1000 friends and relatives of the employees had visited the site in Geel. (13 and 14 M
  • The Cobalt Recovery Unit is operational. With this unit BP can recuperate 95 tot 98 % of the deployed cobalt. (13 June)
  • Re-Certification ISO 9001:2000 for all production units. (1 July)
  • Re-certification ISO 14001:1996 for the entire site. (1 July)
  • The BP Group gives the go-ahead for the PTA expansion project in Geel, announced in April. (31 October)

2007

  • The communities of Geel and Laakdal organise information meetings following BPs desired capacity enhancement of the PTA units (purified terephthalic acid), the so-called PTA debotttlenecking (16 and 24 January).
  • BP starts construction of a third anaerobic reactor in the water treatment unit. This new reactor is necessary because of the decreasing performance of the present two anaerobic reactors and because the water treatment unit wants to be ready for the PTA debotttlenecking (April).
  • The new BP Group CEO Tony Hayward visits the site and performs the breaking ground ceremony for the PTA debotttlenecking (4 May).
  • The truckers hauling PTA on behalf of BP have been driving for two years without any traffic accident. This statistic proves the about 170 drivers chauffeurs to be safer than their average colleague (13 June).
  • Managing director Gijs Meerburg, aged 60, retires after having led the Geel site for nine years and is succeeded by Patrick Van Acker (1 July).
  • The Commercial department moves from Engeland to Geel. The department is responsible for marketing, sales and transport of the Geel produced PTA (1 July).
  • BP switches to Documentum, a document managing system. Purpose is a more accurate management and faster consultation of about all company documentation as well as ensuring legal requirements (Summer).
  • For the third time in its histroy, no lost time accidents in a full calendar year. (31 December)

2008

  • The PTA expansion project enhances the annual capacity of the PTA production (purified terephthalic acid) to 1.4 million tonnes. The project started in 2007 and was concluded at the outset of 2009. (January-December)
  • Setting-up a joint control room for the PTA2 en PTA3 production units caused social unrest in 2008. At the end of May parties came to an agreement which ended the strike.
  • On 12 march a third bio reactor was started up.
  • As of March 2008, BP imports most of its raw material acetic acid by waterway instead of by road. This reliefs the roads, causes less CO2 exhaust and lowers the accident risk.
  • BP installed a new PTA bulk transport (trucks) loading line with a mobile and versatile double spout. (spring)
  • On 20 May, students of the Marketing Department at the Katholieke Hogeschool Kempen in Geel organised a press conference. The theme was the fifth local community survey, held on behalf of BP.
  • Birdwatcher spotted 3 young of peregrine falcons in a nest within a special crate, put in one of the stacks at the BP plant in Geel. (June)
  • In the Autumn, BP celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Buren magazine.
  • 2008 was a year with lots of project work as well as two big maintenance TARs. This accounted for a large number of working hours (2.25 million compared to 1.29 million in 2007). Yet 2008 was an excellent safety year with a historically low accident frequency notwithstanding one lost time accident.

2009

  • BP in Geel celebrates its 40th year of production. In 1967-1968, the site was constructed, in 1969, production started.
  • In January, the construction works for the expansion project end. With this, the PTA (purified terephthalic acid) annual capacity has been raised to 1.4 million tonnes.
  • Re-certification according to the new ISO 9001:2008 standard for all production units. (March)
  • Buren magazine decreases its periodicity from four to three editions a year, but does so with a new lay-out (Spring)
  • The annual capacity of the PX unit is enhanced by 4 % following a debottleneck of the isomerisation furnace (April).
  • Like every year, pupils from schools in Geel, Laakdal and Meerhout gather for a day of traffic education. The 2009 edition is special as it is the 10th year of this event, which is co-sponsored and co-organised by BP in Geel. (September)
  • BP in Geel is assessed positively by the Flemish Government Environmental Permit Department. (November)
  • IIn spite of the economic crisis, 2009 is a good year for BP in Geel. Never before, the site produced more PX (paraxylene). Sales of PTA equalled the record year 2007 and PIA’s production peaked since 1998.
  • 2009 was a great year in terms of safety: there were no lost time accidents (LTA) in spite of the many projects. At the end of the year, the site boasted some 2.9 million working hours without LTA since March 2008.

2010

  • After eleven years, including two big projects, BP is ready to finish the last phase of the noise improvement plan. Recent measurements indicate that the authorities’ objectives have been met.
  • The project ‘Wakannekik’ raises consciousness with both parents and children about the importance of choosing the right learning career at the age of 12. The project is sponsored by BP. (April)
  • The BP Group is faced with an unprecedented disaster when an explosion on the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon takes eleven lives, and millions of litres of oil pour into the ocean. (20 April)
  • BP in Geel announces its intention to close the PIA production unit. This will eventually result in the loss of some 75 jobs in 2011-2012. The announcement follows Flint Hills Resources’ ending of the contract at the start of 2010. BP had been producing PIA exclusively for Flint Hills since 2004. (7 October)
  • Team, BP in Geel’s personnel magazine goes digital and intends to appear more frequently. (November)
  • A very heavy TAR (TurnARound) of the PTA2 production unit is finished. (November)
  • Every year, the waterways transport of goods to BP increases. Although this is a good thing environmentally speaking, it does create jetty capacity problems.
  • Even though there were no LTAs, 2010 was not a good safety year. After all, there were three accidents requiring medical assistance.

2011

  • In January 2011, Dr. Véronique Stuyck took over as the BP in Geel company doctor. She shares the position with Dr. Pascale Weytjens.
  • In the Spring of 2011, students of the Marketing Department at the Katholieke Hogeschool Kempen in Geel organised and executed the sixth local community survey, on behalf of BP.
  • On the 4th of April the Geel site opened its first ever employee cafeteria.
  • On Sunday 22 May, BP organised open days. About 1200 visitors showed up.
  • May 31st was the last working day within the PIA unit (purified isophthalic acid). Even though jobs were lost, nobody made redundant..
  • 21 October saw the ceremonial celebration of the earlier agreement between BP and JBF RAK LLC. This agreement allows the Indian company to build and exploit a PET production facility on the BP site in Geel. The choice for this location is directly linked to the presence of PET’s main feedstock, PTA (purified terephthalic acid)
  • Never before in the site’s history, a more comprehensive TAR was organised (TurnARound – shutdown for maintenance and/or project work). This included so many units, was technically so challenging, and demanded so much external assistance that it was internally referred to as a Mega-TAR.
  • 2011 was not a good year in terms of safety: there were two lost time accidents and eight accidents requiring medical assistance.

2012

  • Every three years, BP is tested with regard to an ISO recertification (ISO 9001:2008 and 14001:2004). After a thorough audit in the spring of 2012, Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance gave the site the thumbs up.
  • On 9 and 10 May, social elections took place to nominate members of the Works Council and the Prevention and Protection at Work Committee.
  • In the second half of the year, the so-called spheres, next to the canal, were demolished after having been out of use for some time. With that, an important element of the site’s skyline has been changed.
  • On 17 October, managing director Patrick Van Acker ceremonially handed over the keys of the gate around the future PET production unit to David Liu, plant manager of the JBF site. Only days later, JBF started work on the foundations.
  • In October and November 2012 a PTA unit was subject to a TAR (TurnARound: maintenance and/or project work standstill). Apart from the many technical challenges, this TAR may be remembered best for the extensive safety prevention efforts.
  • In 2012, Laakdal became a little greener again. The buffer zone alongside the E313 motorway, the so-called Amoco bush, was extended following a cooperation between Kempens Landschap vzw, the Laakdal council, and BP.
  • The last couple of years, the BP Geel site’s demand for steam has been reduced to such an extent, that it became uneconomical to keep running the Cogen (short for co-generation unit) At the end of 2012, the installation was switched off.
  • There were zero lost days accidents at BP Geel in 2012.

2013

  • In 2013, JBF continued the construction of a PET production installation next to BP. Apart from work on JBF grounds, this involved a lot of activity on the BP site, including equipment to link the two production facilities with each other.
  • BP worked out a system, mapping all tasks in such a manner as to render working even more safe, fast and efficient. The new approach was given the name ‘Control of Work’, or ‘CoW’. It was quickly clear what the mascot was to look like … (a cow)
  • With a share of six percent, female workers are underrepresented at the BP site in Geel. Still, another male monopoly was broken at BP in Geel: Dorien Duijsters (23) came on board as the first ever female operator.
  • In June, BP started a campaign which lead to 24 new people being hired in 2013. The numerous vacancies were a mix of replacements, temporary functions, as well as ten additional positions. With these, BP primarily intended to strengthen the ranks of the maintenance and project organisations.
  • Similarly to 2012, the 2013 autumn saw an impressive TAR (TurnARound: planned stop for maintenance and/or project work). The focus was even more on safety, resulting in a good safety score.
  • The Cogen (Co-generation) installation, stopped in 2012, was dismantled and put in containers to be shipped to Argentina in 2014 for a second life.
  • There was one lost time accident in 2013. Every accident is one too many, but at the same time, this absolute figure is not the crux of the matter. If you also take into account figures about accidents requiring medical care and/or resulting in alternative work and if you look at the relative figures, the results are quite positive.

2014

  • Mike Olbrich starts on 1 January as the new Plant Manager and Managing Director at BP in Geel. Graham Knights and Roel Dekoninck are new too in the jobs of respectively Commercial Director and Communications Manager.
  • All BP Group websites are thoroughly reviewed and that includes the two Belgian websites.
  • In the Summer of 2014, JBF starts with the production of PET, an important milestone in the history of the BP in Geel plant.
  • BP invests heavily with WieSox, the replacement of two oxidation reactors in PTA to enhance energy effectiveness.
  • A pressure filter is installed in PTA2 to replace the centrifuges, another power saving investment.
  • At the start of November, An Onkelinx starts as BP in Geel’s new HSSE-manager
  • There was one LTA accident in 2014.

2015

  • April 15 : Nick Elmslie, COO of BP Petrochemicals retires and is succeeded by Rita Griffin. To say goodbye, Nick visits BP Geel and he uses this opportunity to introduce Rita.
  • Summer : Air view shows how near our site is connected with Ineos and JBF. Two other, independent companies on the BP Geel site. In several ways there is collaboration between these companies, e.g. safety and fire services. For BP Geel it is important to have a good relationship with all our neighbours. Not only Ineos and JBF, but also IOK (the organisation for the development of the region), Katoen Natie and of course the neighbouring villages.
  • August 7 : In order to anchor the site in the region, BP always searches for the best technology. This is necessary to operate sustainably and to improve the cost efficiency of the units. This helps us to stay competitive on the European market. The Wiesox project fits in this vision and is completed. The installation of a new reactor vessel is a milestone in this project. The vessel is produced by Coek Engineering. During the night of August 6 the vessel was transported from Coek to BP.
  • September 6 : Sunday 6th September we had our family day. Over 1.300 persons visited our site. More than 220 colleagues and over 50 retirees visited the plant with family and friends.
  • Autumn : A part of the installations is stopped to build in the reactor vessel and to perform some small maintenance activities.

2016

  • Reactor transport during the night from 18 to 19 February. The past years BP Geel worked on the Wiesox project. The emplacement of the reactor vessel was a milestone. Meanwhile the old vessel is overhauled by Coek Engineering. During the night from 18 to 19 February the vessel was transported to BP for emplacement in one of our production units.
  • New plant manager : from July 1 Connie Paasse will replace Mike Olbrich, who retired, as Plant Manager BP Geel
  • The petrol station was closed : the petrol station at the entrance of the plant was closed. A familiar image of a monument disappears hereby.
  • PTAir the sustainable future of PTA and BP Geel : since September 13 the PTA world looks different. That day BP proposed PTAir a new low carbon PTA. Characteristic is that this PTAir uses patent technology of PX and PTA. This technology reduces the global warming potential with 29% as to the average European PTA production. Besides BP also launched PTAir Neutral the first certificated CO2 neutral PTA worldwide.

2017

  • PIA was the oldest production unit in Geel. The unit was operated since 1969 and was demolished in 2017. Also the towers of this unit were removed. The tower had to be sawn in pieces and taken away step by step, what made it a complex job. The demolition creates space for potential investments in the future.
  • September 5 the new dryer for one of our production units was delivered. The dryer is 25 m long and 5 m wide. Because of the proportion of the dryer the exceptional transport happened over the Albertkanaal.
  • In a triannual survey BP Geel maps the relationship with the neighbours. BP works together with students of Thomas More for this survey. In the spring of 2017 students interviewed 600 neighbours. More than three quarter of our neighbours experience no inconvenience caused by BP.