Mak­ing China en­ergy-smart Re­becca Liebert leads Honey­well UOP’s ef­forts to trans­form the petro­chem­i­cal in­dus­try

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By ZHENG XIN zhengxin@chi­

Petro­chem­i­cals and their ap­pli­ca­tions have pride of place in this en­ergy-hun­gry world — and any­one who can help pro­duce clean, cost-ef­fi­cient en­ergy will en­joy added sig­nif­i­cance, more so in large, pop­u­lous coun­tries such as China.

Honey­well UOP, a strate­gic busi­ness unit of Honey­well’s per­for­mance ma­te­ri­als and tech­nolo­gies di­vi­sion, does pre­cisely that.

Re­becca Liebert, UOP’s pres­i­dent and CEO, leads that ef­fort with her em­pha­sis on mak­ing com­plex things sim­ple — she calls it her forte — and col­lab­o­rat­ing with Chi­nese com­pa­nies.

Liebert said Honey­well helps its cus­tomers make more money with bet­ter tech­nol­ogy, bet­ter en­ergy ef­fi­ciency and bet­ter en­vi­ron­men­tal foot­print.

At the heart of this make-bet­ter drive is UOP’s methanol-toolefin or MTO tech­nol­ogy.

Us­ing Honey­well’s tech­nol­ogy, its cor­po­rate cus­tomers like petro­chem­i­cal com­pa­nies and oil re­fin­ers im­prove their olefin pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity, re­duce en­ergy con­sump­tion and pro­duc­tion costs.

In the con­text of en­ergy, that’s a vir­tual game-changer, which makes UOP a big deal in the in­dus­try.

This fact is not lost on Chi­nese en­ergy play­ers. In May, Wi­son En­gi­neer­ing Ltd signed a part­ner­ship agree­ment with UOP for the MTO tech­nol­ogy. The two will also jointly pro­vide EPC (en­gi­neer­ing, pro­cure­ment and con­struc­tion) ser­vices, in which Wi­son is strong, to cus­tomers out­side of China.

UOP sees the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive as a big op­por­tu­nity. Liebert said: “It prom­ises to raise the level of con­nec­tiv­ity, co­op­er­a­tion and trade be­tween dozens of na­tions that have traded with China for thou­sands of years.

“Honey­well is work­ing with China’s lead­ing en­ter­prises to bring eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment to th­ese coun­tries through its clean en­ergy and chem­i­cals tech­nolo­gies.

“Our MTO tech­nol­ogy is one of the big­gest op­por­tu­ni­ties for those coun­tries that have very low-cost nat­u­ral gas which can be put into meth­ane and olefin.

Honey­well has 23 of­fices and 3,200 em­ploy­ees in mar­kets cov­ered by the ini­tia­tive, in­clud­ing Pak­istan, Kaza­khstan and the Mid­dle East that have a lot of gas and hence are keen on set­ting up MTO projects.

“We see the need for MTO projects in a lot of Belt and Road coun­tries be­cause that is where nat­u­ral gas is. And if you have dry, clean, low-cost nat­u­ral gas, you can eas­ily con­vert it into meth­ane, and go to olefin,” Liebert said.

The grow­ing Chi­nese mar­ket al­ready ac­counts for 15 to 20 per­cent of UOP’s global lay­out. So, the com­pany is plan­ning to add a brand new MTO cat­a­lyst man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pac­ity by this year-end.

In China, UOP will be most help­ful for pri­vate re­fin­ers, es­pe­cially those that are not in a po­si­tion to up­grade their tech­nol­ogy to make prod­ucts that meet the ever-ris­ing stan­dards and spec­i­fi­ca­tions, Liebert said.

“Cars are get­ting more ad­vanced, they need higher qual­ity fuel that can meet the en­vi­ron­ment re­quire­ments. We can help on this.”

UOP, she said, can also help its clients make the most en­ergy-ef­fi­cient aro­mat­ics (a type of petro­chem­i­cals). “Chi­nese com­pa­nies now re­ally want to be en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly be­cause they want to com­pete at the high­est level — mean­ing, they need the low­est cost struc­ture.”

Liebert said Honey­well UOP sees bright prospects in China in the next ten years, con­sid­er­ing the grow­ing af­flu­ence of the mid­dle class, which cre­ates de­mand for life­style-re­lated things like cars and food take­outs.

All th­ese are pos­i­tives from the con­sump­tion per­spec­tive. For ex­am­ple, they cre­ate de­mand for air travel, which needs high-qual­ity avi­a­tion fuel, a prod­uct of the petro­chem­i­cals and oil re­fin­ing in­dus­try.

Sim­i­larly, de­mand for toys and plas­tic food con­tain­ers can be met only with ad­e­quate sup­ply of raw ma­te­ri­als like petro­chem­i­cals.

Con­sid­er­ing that sev­eral big petro­chem­i­cal and re­fin­ing projects will be set up in the next five years, UOP’s fo­cus is on them and on re­vamps, up­grades and im­prove­ments that will fol­low.

“With a grow­ing econ­omy, de­mand for our prod­ucts and ser­vices is only go­ing to be stronger and stronger,” she said. “We won some ma­jor projects in China in the last few years and we’ll con­tinue to in­vest here to be part of this growth,” Liebert said.

On a per­sonal note, Liebert said climb­ing the cor­po­rate lad­der and reach­ing the cor­ner suite has noth­ing to do with be­ing a woman.

“Some peo­ple think you got pro­moted be­cause you were the only woman in the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s top level. But I took train­ing in petro­chem­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing very se­ri­ously. Even af­ter re­ceiv­ing my PhD, I kept learn­ing, grow­ing and push­ing my­self. And I’ve a great team,” she said dur­ing a meet­ing in Shang­hai in June, full of poise, with her white-dot­ted black out­fit and bluish candy-col­ored man­i­cure lend­ing an un­mis­tak­able fem­i­nine charm to her.

She joined Honey­well in 2006 from Al­coa Inc, where she was pres­i­dent of Reynolds Food Pack­ag­ing. Prior, she served as busi­ness di­rec­tor of the solid poly­styrene and high per­for­mance poly­styrene busi­ness of Nova Chem­i­cals.

We see the need for MTO projects in a lot of Belt and Road coun­tries. . .” Re­becca Liebert, pres­i­dent and CEO of Honey­well UOP


Re­becca Liebert, pres­i­dent and CEO of Honey­well UOP, said the com­pany helps its cus­tomers in China to make more money with bet­ter tech­nol­ogy, bet­ter en­ergy ef­fi­ciency and bet­ter en­vi­ron­men­tal foot­print.

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