UpdateLyondellBasell mulls ethylene expansions, new cracker

02 May 2011 19:45  [Source: ICIS news]

LyondellBasell(adds paragraph 1, 6-13)

HOUSTON (ICIS)--LyondellBasell is considering debottlenecking its crackers at two US sites, and it may even build a new one, chief executive Jim Gallogly said on Monday.

LyondellBasell is considering debottlenecking its crackers at Channelview and La Porte, Texas, which could add at least 500m lb/year (227,000 tonnes/year) of ethane-based ethylene capacity, Gallogly said.

The projects are still in early engineering stages, Gallogly said during an earnings conference call.

"We think that makes the most sense," he said. "Typically those brownfield debottleneck investments have the most significant payouts."

LyondellBasell has two crackers in Channelview, Texas, and one in La Porte, Texas. Gallogly did not specify if the company would debottleneck both Channelview crackers or just one.

LyondellBasell is also studying whether it will build a cracker, Gallogly said. Such a project is in the study phase, and the company has not announced plans to actually build one.

If LyondellBasell were to build a cracker, it would do with another company, a concept that Gallogly called a condo cracker.

LyondellBasell is the latest company to announce either studies or outright plans to expand ethylene capacity in the US.

Dow Chemical plans to build a world-scale ethylene plant on the US Gulf coast for start-up in 2017.

Chevron Phillips Chemical is studying the possibility of building a world-scale ethane cracker, and INEOS has undertaken engineering studies to debotleneck its cracker in Chocolate Bayou, Texas.

Westlake Chemical is expanding ethylene capacity at its Lake Charles complex in Louisiana.

Companies are considering new US cracker projects because the country has growing supplies of natural gas liquids, caused by the advent of shale gas.

The new crackers will rely on ethane as a feedstock, giving them a cost advantage over crackers in other parts of the world, which rely on oil-based naphtha.

For more on ethylene visit ICIS chemical intelligence

By: Al Greenwood
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