We have more than 80 years of experience in the chemicals industry, and produce and sell petrochemicals to more than 1,000 industrial customers worldwide. Our range of petrochemicals includes base chemicals, such as ethylene, propylene and aromatics; and first-line derivatives, such as styrene monomer, propylene oxide, solvents, detergent alcohols, and ethylene oxide. Our customers, many of them leading companies in their own fields, use these products to make everyday items, such as plastics, detergents, textiles, medical equipment and computers. In total, we sold more than 18 million tonnes of bulk petrochemicals in 2012.
Over many decades we have developed the proprietary technologies, processes and catalysts that enable Shell to compete strongly in our core petrochemical markets. For example, our OMEGA technology converts ethylene to ethylene oxide, which is used to make a wide range of industrial and consumer products, including polyester films and fibres, engine coolants and antifreeze. It is considered the most efficient technology of its kind, using about 20% less steam and producing about 30% less waste water than traditional thermal conversion mono-ethylene glycol (MEG) technology with the same capacity. The technology also produces significantly less carbon dioxide per tonne of MEG than conventional processes.
In Singapore, we are building a demonstration unit to manufacture the chemical ingredient diphenyl carbonate, a versatile engineering plastic used in a wide and growing variety of applications, from optical media equipment, household items and automotive components, to electronics, sheeting and films.
We will continue to focus on the synergies among our petrochemical plants, refineries and Upstream business to increase the supply of the best available feedstock for our crackers.
Our Chemicals strategy is based on selective growth at existing sites through increases in capacity, improvements in efficiency and integration, and strengthening of our feedstock sources. It is also based on securing integrated growth projects with partners and developing technologies to convert gas to chemicals.
In Qatar, Shell and Qatar Petroleum have awarded the front-end engineering and design contract for a proposed world-scale petrochemicals project (Shell interest 20%) in Ras Laffan Industrial City. The scope includes a capacity of 1.5 mtpa of mono-ethylene glycol and 0.3 mtpa of linear alpha olefins. We are also developing plans to build a potential world-scale ethylene cracker with integrated polyethylene derivative units in the Appalachian region in the north-east of the USA. In 2012, we agreed with our partner SABIC to expand Sadaf, our long-standing joint venture in Saudi Arabia, including the proposed construction of new derivative units.