NPRA '11: INEOS may start building US EO plant in 2015 - CEO

29 March 2011 22:19  [Source: ICIS news]

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (ICIS)--INEOS Oxide could start construction on a ethylene oxide (EO) plant and its derivative units in 2015 if the company’s board approves the project, its CEO said on Tuesday.

INEOS Oxide should have more specific plans about the scope of the project by the end of 2011, said Hans Casier, CEO of INEOS Oxide.

Casier made his comments on the sidelines of the International Petrochemical Conference (IPC), which was held by the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA).

The project is centred on a 500,000 tonne/year EO unit, which would also have several derivatives units, including ethylene glycol (EG), INEOS Oxide said.

Production from the new capacity would primarily serve the large and growing US market, but also feed into INEOS’ global supply chain, Casier said.

“We do not have EO in the US at present, but adding capacity is a logical step to take,” he said.

Ultimately, Casier would like to build EO operations in the US along the same lines as in Europe, he said, where INEOS has 1m tones/year of capacity and is the largest single producer.

INEOS currently operates two derivatives plants in the US - ethanolamines in Plaquemine, Louisiana, and GasSpec MDA specialty derivatives in Freeport, Texas.

Casier said INEOS Oxide heard plenty of interest about the project at NPRA and had been talking to potential suppliers and customers.

An upcoming study will determine the exact slate of products to be made in the US and also the extent to which EO will be available on the merchant market.

The location of the investment is still to be decided, he said, adding that there were several possibilities, including existing INEOS Group locations.

The company recently announced it was considering debottlenecking ethylene capacity on its cracker at Chocolate Bayou, Texas.

The intention to invest in the US has been supported, Casier added, by developments in shale gas extraction and the return to lower natural gas pricing in the US.

“This has changed the competitiveness of the US as compared to just a few years ago,” he said.

Casier sees ethylene glycol demand growing strongly, at 6-7%/year, with a huge pull from Asia. He forecast EO derivatives growing broadly at above GDP levels.

David Brooks, business director for INEOS Oxide, said the company’s desire to invest in the US was also supported by its current US organisation, allowing it to integrate a new facility with existing operations.

In addition, construction in the US would be completed quicker than in other locations, such as Asia, he noted.

However, he did not rule out future investment in that region or the Middle East.

Hosted by the NPRA, the IPC ends on Tuesday.

For more on EO and EG visit ICIS chemical intelligence

By: John Baker
+44 20 8652 3214

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