EPCA ’13: Ascend’s Texas PDH plant to be world scale: executive

08 October 2013 15:00  [Source: ICIS news]

BERLIN (ICIS)--Ascend Performance Materials’ planned propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant in Chocolate Bayou, Texas, will be world scale, an executive with the company said on Tuesday.

Ascend, a private producer in the US of acrylonitrile (ACN) and nylon 6,6, has been fairly silent about the details of the proposed propylene production plant.

But speaking on the sidelines at the 47th annual European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) conference, the company’s global business director for chemicals, John Ferguson, said that the plant would be world scale in size. He declined further specifications as to production capacity, and financial details have not been disclosed.

A permit application filed in February with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that construction of the PDH plant will begin in January 2014, with start-up scheduled for Q4 2015.

Ascend’s Thomas Verghese, vice president for chemicals, said the timeline listed in permit remains “reasonable” and that the EPA began studying the permit as of last month.

Propylene is a feedstock for ACN and hydrogen cyanide, which Ascend makes and then converts into a host of chemicals for internal consumption or external sales.

The PDH plant will be integrated into Ascend’s Chocolate Bayou complex where the company produces ACN.

“When you think about it, we have a number of advantages,” Verghese said. “We have a great location at Chocolate Bayou, which is right at the intersection of multiple pipelines. We have land, and we have one of the largest captive uses of propylene in the country.”

Propylene prices have swung widely in the past year, and the increase in ethane cracking will lead to a growing deficit in propylene in coming years, he said.

The PDH plant will insulate Ascend from those swings and the company will benefit from the influx of propane gleaned from the shale gas revolution, he added.

But even if propylene prices steady themselves, the Ascend PDH investment is a sound one, Verghese said.

“If propylene stays where it is, it is a good project in its own right,” he said.

The EPCA conference runs 5-9 October.

By: Jeremy Pafford
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