Equistar begins shutdown of Texas cracker for feedstock change

16 December 2009 19:15  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--Equistar Chemicals is beginning the shutdown of its Corpus Christi cracker in Texas, the company said on Wednesday, kicking off a major turnaround that will allow the unit to run mostly on lighter feedstocks next year.

The cracker now runs on a combination of natural gas liquids (NGLs) and naphtha and condensate. Equistar plans to switch to nearly all NGLs in 2010 due to the cost advantages of those feedstocks.

The turnaround is expected to last through the end of February, an Equistar spokesperson said.

The unit has 771,000 tonnes/year of ethylene capacity.

The change in Corpus Christi is part of an ongoing trend in the US olefins industry, which now relies on NGLs for around 75% of its feeds.

That trend is usually cited as a reason for increased US ethylene output to the detriment of propylene and particularly crude C4, from which butadiene (BD) is extracted.

Equistar in August announced it would idle its BD unit in Corpus Christi as a result of the planned feedstock change on the cracker side.

The BD plant was taken off line in mid-November.

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By: William Lemos
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