BASF says giant Texas cracker completed; start-up in Nov

Source: ICIS News

2001/08/27

PORT ARTHUR, Texas (CNI)--The giant $1bn (Euro1.09bn) BASF-AtoFina steam cracker here is mechanically complete and will begin operation in mid-November, the BASF project chief said here Monday.

At an on-site press conference here today, Rudi Schnur, BASF's senior vice president for petrochemicals, said work on what BASF terms "the world's largest steam cracker" is proceeding according to its revised schedule. Schnur noted that a previous schedule that had the cracker opening in June this year was "too optimistic" and that the company revised its schedule a year ago for a fourth quarter completion date.

Construction on the project was begun in 1998.

The steam cracker is a 60:40 joint venture of BASF and AtoFina under the name BASF Fina Petrochemicals. The cracker is expected to produce 920 000 tonne/year of ethylene and 550 000 tonne/year of propylene.

The cracker is one of eight integrated sites along the Gulf Coast out of a industry-wide total of 48 refineries and 40 steam crackers.

Schnur added: "The project came within budget. A major portion of the cost was the cracker, which was a lump sum project with very minor change orders."

In a statement, Mount Olive, New Jersey-based BASF Corporation said the new steam cracker "has a number of features that will place BASF amongst the lowest-cost producers on the Gulf Coast." A unit of Ludwigshafen, Germany-based BASF, the company said its Port Arthur cracker will benefit from economies of scale and a flexible feedstock range, among other things.

Output from the Port Arthur facility will feed BASF production plants in Freeport, Texas and Geismar, Louisiana as well as other sites in North America.