06 May 2009 20:57 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS news)--LyondellBasell in March produced 65% of its US Gulf ethylene from natural gas liquids (NGL) and plans to feed an even higher percentage in April and May in anticipation of continued cost advantages over naphtha, company officials said on Wednesday.
“We bet on the restart of our LaPorte plant, shifted the system more towards [light feeds] and we are increasing flexibility in our heavy liquid crackers,” COO Ed Dineen said in a conference call with investors.
“In general, for the near- and maybe even medium-term we expect lights to be favoured over heavies,” he added.
In addition to closing its Chocolate Bayou cracker in Texas, LyondellBasell has increased ethane usage at units at Corpus Christi and Channelview, Texas.
Also, the company’s main naphtha supplier was working to improve the competitiveness of supply, Dineen said.
Ethane prices have risen in the past month, despite natural gas prices holding at low levels.
The NYMEX Mont Belvieu ethane contract for June closed at 40.19 cents/gal on 5 May, up from prices around 35 cents/gal a month earlier.
Excluding the shuttered Chocolate Bayou plant, LyondellBasell’s US olefins units operated at more than 90% of capacity in March, according to company officials.
Major US producers of ethylene include Dow, ExxonMobil and INEOS.
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