HOUSTON (ICIS)--Chevron Phillips Chemical held on Wednesday a ground-breaking ceremony for its new 1.5m tonne/year cracker at its Cedar Bayou complex in Baytown, Texas, the first one to be built in the US in more than a decade.
"It's a trailblazing project," company CEO Peter Cella said.
Chevron Phillips is among several companies that are taking advantage of growing supplies of US ethane, made possible by the advent of shale gas.
Companies have announced 10 new crackers − on top of several expansion projects.
Chevron Phillips, though, was the first to secure all the permits necessary for the plant, which the company expects will give it a first-mover advantage, Cella said.
The company announced feasibility studies for the plant in March 2011, and the Chevron Phillips board approved the project in October 2013.
The company awarded the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for the cracker to a joint venture, USGC Petrochemicals Project, which is made up of JGC (USA) and Fluor Enterprises.
Chevron Phillips expects the plant to be finished in 2017.
The cracker is among several projects that Chevron Phillips is undertaking.
A decision on the expansion project could be made in the second quarter, Cella said.
Despite these derivative projects, Chevron Phillips intends to remain an ethylene supplier, he said. "We like being an ethylene supplier, and we want to remain an ethylene supplier."
Chevron Phillips other major derivative projects are the two PE plants that it is building at its Sweeny complex in Old Ocean, Texas.
One plant will have a 500,000 tonne/year capacity of bimodal high-density PE (HDPE). The plant will use Chevron Phillips's Advanced Dual-Loop technology.
The other new plant will produce 500,000 tonne/year of metallocene linear low-density PE (LLDPE).
Chevron Phillips awarded the EPC for the PE plants to a joint venture made up of Technip USA and Zachry Industrial.
Chevron Phillips already has plants that use these two PE technologies, Cella said. However, these plants were retrofitted. Moreover, they are not world scale.
The two plants in Old Ocean will be the first world-scale plants that use this technology, Cella said.
Chevron Phillips is targeting domestic markets for these two PE plants, according to Cella. Currently, the company exports less than 20% of its PE. That mix should stay the same after the plants start operation.
The metallocene LLDPE stands out because of its clarity, printability and puncture resistance, important qualities for packaging, Cella said. The bimodal PE is soft while still withstanding pressure.
Altogether, the PE plants and the cracker represent a significant investment for Chevron Phillips Chemical, Cella said.
The value of the project is $6bn, he said. The value of Chevron Phillips's global assets is $10bn.
Moreover, the new cracker represents a 40% expansion of the company's ethylene capacity, Cella said. Likewise, the two PE plants represent a 40% expansion of the company's current capacity of the resin.
|US PLANNED ETHYLENE EXPANSIONS BASED ON SHALE GAS|
|Chevron Phillips Chemical||1.5m tonnes||HDPE, LLDPE||Cedar Bayou, Texas||mid-late 2017|
|ExxonMobil Chemical||1.5m tonnes||PE||Baytown, Texas||Late 2016|
|Dow Chemical||1.5m tonnes||LDPE, other PE, EPDM, elastomers, LAO (JV)||Freeport, Texas||2017|
|Sasol||1.5m tonnes||LDPE, LLDPE, EO, MEG, detergent alcohols||Lake Charles, Louisiana||2017|
|Formosa Plastics||1.0m tonnes||LDPE, MEG||Point Comfort, Texas||Q1 2017|
|Formosa Plastics||1.2m tonnes||NA||Louisiana||NA|
|Occidental Chemical/Mexichem||544,000 tonnes||EDC, VCM||Ingleside, Texas||2017|
|Shell||World-scale||PE, MEG||Monaca, Pennsylvania||2019-2020*|
|Odebrecht||World-scale||PE||Wood County, West Virginia||NA|
|INEOS||115,000 tonnes||NA||Chocolate Bayou, Texas||2014|
|Williams||273,000 tonnes||NA||Geismar, Louisiana||Apr 2014|
|Westlake Chemical||82,000 tonnes||NA||Calvert City, Kentucky||Q2 2014|
|LyondellBasell||363,000 tonnes||NA||La Porte, Texas||mid-2014|
|Chevron Phillips Chemical||91,000 tonnes||NA||Sweeny. Texas||2014|
|Westlake Chemical||113,000 tonnes||NA||Lake Charles, Louisiana||2014|
|LyondellBasell||113,000 tonnes||NA||Channelview, Texas||2015|
|LyondellBasell||363,000 tonnes||NA||Corpus Christi, Texas||Late 2015|
|Huntsman||19,300 tonnes||EO||Port Neches, Texas||NA|
|BASF Fina Petrochemicals||NA||NA||Port Athur, Texas||2014|
|* ICIS estimate|
|Source: Companies, ICIS analysis|