US Westlake to proceed with 50-day cracker turnaround in Q4

02 August 2012 18:42  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US-based Westlake Chemical will proceed with a 50-day turnaround at its Petro II cracker in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in the fourth quarter, the company's CEO Albert Chao said on Thursday.

The planned outage at the 699,000 tonne/year unit will allow the company to expand ethylene production, taking advantage of low-cost ethane feedstock, Chao said during a second quarter conference call with investors.

The company has also pushed off a second expansion at its Petro I cracker in Lake Charles from 2014 to 2015, said Steven Bender, chief financial officer.

That cracker went down for an unplanned outage in June to fix a steam leak. While it was down, the company was able to complete other maintenance at the unit, allowing it to move the longer turnaround off for another year, Bender said.

When asked by an analyst whether it would be better to complete the turnaround sooner, rather than later, Chao said that while margins are good, it makes sense for the company to run the unit as long as possible.

The two expansions are expected to increase overall ethylene capacity at the Lake Charles site by 226,800 tonnes/year from the present combined capacity of 1.1m tonnes/year.

Westlake is also continuing studies to convert its propane-based ethylene unit in Calvert City, Kentucky to an ethane cracker by 2014 to take advantage of ethane from the Marcellus and Utica shale plays in the east US.

By: Michelle Klump
+1 713 525 2653

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