Dow joins growing list of firms with US olefins projects, studies

22 April 2011 00:08  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Dow Chemical became on Thursday the latest producer to announce plans to either study or outright increase capacity of monomers in the US, or to debottleneck existing facilities.

The prospect of cost-advantaged feedstocks from US shale gas reserves has prompted several companies to make expansion announcements.

Dow said it planned to build a new cracker on the US Gulf, while other companies such as Chevron Phillips, Braskem and Formosa were either studying or at least were considering expansion of olefins capacity in the US.

Other producers such as Westlake and ExxonMobil were looking at debottlenecking existing US operations, versus building new crackers.

The following lists the companies that have announced plans to either study or actually build new plants in the US.

Dow Chemical
Dow plans to build a world-scale ethylene plant on the US Gulf coast for start-up in 2017. It also plans to build a world-scale on-purpose propylene plant in Texas for start-up in 2015.

INEOS is undertaking engineering studies to debottleneck ethylene capacity at its complex in Chocolate Bayou, Texas. If INEOS pursues the project, it could add 115,000 tonnes/year.

The company operates two crackers at Chocolate Bayou with a combined capacity of 1.70m tonnes/year.

INEOS Oxide may also start construction on an ethylene oxide (EO) plant and its derivative units in 2015 if the company’s board approves the project.

Chevron Phillips Chemical
The company said it is studying the construction of a world-scale ethane cracker and ethylene derivatives plant at one of its existing facilities in the US Gulf.

The company expects to complete a feasibility study by the end of 2011.

Westlake Chemical
Westlake Chemical said it planned to increase ethylene capacity at its Lake Charles complex in Louisiana.

The company has two crackers in Lake Charles with 590,000 tonnes/year and 544,000 tonnes/year of ethylene capacity.

The first cracker expansion will increase capacity by approximately 104,000-109,000 tonnes/year.  It should be completed by late 2012.

The second expansion is to be completed by the end of 2014, but the company gave no details.

Westlake also said it would also consider expansion options and upgrades of ethylene production at its 195,000 tonne/year Calvert City cracker in Kentucky.

Braskem said it was considering investing in an ethylene cracker and a polyethylene (PE) plant in the US, citing cost advantages from shale gas feedstock.

A Taiwan newspaper reported that Formosa Plastics was expanding its US olefins capacity, but the company said a final decision had yet to be made.

US-based ExxonMobil Chemical said it will seek “normal” debottlenecking opportunities in its US petrochemical operations versus building a new cracker.

“We invest selectively in advantaged projects, but never build new capacity because of demand,” said ExxonMobil president Stephen Pryor. While the advent of US shale gas has given US producers a cost advantage today, the long-term impact is unclear, he noted.

(Additional reporting by Al Greenwood and Brian Ford)

By: William Lemos
+1 713 525 2653

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