Westlake Chemical to expand US ethane-based ethylene capacity

05 April 2011 12:28  [Source: ICIS news]

Westlake US headquarters LONDON (ICIS)--Westlake Chemical will increase ethane-based ethylene capacity at its facility in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in the US as part of a strategy to capitalise on new low-cost ethane and other "light" feedstocks being developed in North America, it said on Tuesday.

Each of Westlake's two light feedstock ethylene crackers in Lake Charles will be expanded in order to provide ethylene for existing internal derivatives units and the merchant market, the US polyethylene (PE) and vinyls producer said in a statement.

The first cracker expansion will increase capacity by approximately 230m-240m lbs/year (104,000-109,000 tonnes/year), while also increasing feedstock flexibility, Westlake said.

Current capacity of the crackers are 590,000 tonnes/year and 544,000 tonnes/year, according to ICIS. Westlake did not specify which cracker will be expanded first.

The first project is expected to be completed by late 2012 and the second expansion concluded by the end of 2014. No further capacity details were disclosed.

Westlake will also evaluate the expansion options and upgrade of ethylene production facilities at its plant in Calvert City, Kentucky, it said.

The company is evaluating conversion from propane to ethane feedstock, which is becoming available from increasing North American gas liquids reserves from sources such as shale gas.

Westlake's Calvert City plant currently has the capacity to produce 195,000 tonnes/year of ethylene, 885,000 tonnes/year of ethylene dichloride and 160,000 tones/year of propylene, according to ICIS data.

"New technical developments in the natural gas industry make expansion in North America attractive and we are accelerating engineering and feedstock sourcing efforts in order to reduce our external purchases of ethylene and provide for attractive future Westlake growth," said Albert Chao, Westlake president and CEO.

"These projects provide an exciting opportunity to capitalise on advantaged feed sources expected from shale gas reserves at two of our core production sites," Chao added.

For more on Westlake Chemical visit ICIS company intelligence
Please visit the complete ICIS plants and projects database

By: Franco Capaldo
+44 (0)20 8652 3214

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