Equistar closes another olefins unit; 8th US cracker down

18 December 2008 17:38  [Source: ICIS news]

Photo courtesy of LyondellBasellHOUSTON (ICIS news)--Equistar said on Thursday it would temporarily shut down its Chocolate Bayou olefins plant in Texas, the eighth US cracker to go off line since monomer demand began to sink in October.

“The olefins unit is expected to remain out of service until sufficient demand for petrochemical derivatives resumes,” Equistar said.

The shutdown at the 544,000 tonne/year unit in Chocolate Bayou is the second announced by Equistar in the last 45 days.

The company on 31 October idled its La Porte olefins plant in Texas. The 789,000 tonnes/year unit was expected to be off line for 2-3 months, Equistar said at the time.

Equistar is a subsidiary of LyondellBasell.

Total US olefins capacity estimated to be off line is 6.6m tonnes, including two crackers in Texas that are down since September due to hurricane-incurred damage.

However, the figure does not include a sharp reduction announced by Dow Chemical at its large Freeport complex in Texas. Nor does it include the permanent shutdown announced by Flint Hills Resources in Odessa, Texas.

Dow said on 4 December it would cut operating rates in Freeport to less than 40% of capacity. Dow has 75 production units at the site, including two crackers with combined capacity of 1.6m tonnes/year.

US ethylene installed capacity is estimated at 28.6m tonnes/year, according to ICIS.

Other reduction and stoppages at US olefins plants include:

  • Westlake Chemical (Lake Charles, Louisiana – 544,000 tonnes/year). The company on 17 December said it was idling one of its ethylene plants in Louisiana because of weak demand.
  • Chevron Phillips Chemical (Port Arthur, Texas - 803,000 tonnes/year). The company said on 15 December the plant would go down for two months due to continued weak demand for the monomer.
  • Flint Hills Resources (Port Arthur, Texas – 621,000 tonnes/year). The company said on 1 December it would idle the unit for unspecified length of time.
  • Chevron Phillips Chemical (Cedar Bayou, Texas – 803,000 tonnes/year). Maintenance shutdown announced on 1 December. Expected to be off line for up to 30 days, depending on market conditions.
  • Chevron Phillips Chemical (Sweeny 22, Texas – 295,000 tonnes/year). Company said on 21 November it would shut down plant for an unspecified length of time.
  • Flint Hills Resources (Odessa, TX - 348,000 tonnes/year). Plant will be permanently shutdown in the first half of 2009. Announcement made on 6 November.
  • Formosa (Point Comfort I, Texas - 680,000 tonnes/year). Began 35-day turnaround first week of November. Company spokesperson said unit remained off line.
  • Equistar (La Porte, Texas - 789,000 tonnes/year). Shutdown announced on 31 October. Expected to be off line for 2-3 months.
  • ExxonMobil (Beaumont, Texas – 826,000 tonnes/year). Unit has been off line since September due to hurricane. Restart unknown.
  • DuPont (Orange, Texas – 680,000 tonnes/year). Unit has been off line since September due to hurricane. Restart unknown.

For more on olefins visit ICIS chemical intelligence
For more on Equistar’s plants, visit ICIS plants and projects
To discuss issues facing the chemical industry go to ICIS connect

By: William Lemos
+1 713 525 2653

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