HOUSTON (CNI)--Chevron Phillips Chemical (CPChem) said Friday it will fully decommission its 180 000 tonne/year ethylene cracker at Sweeny, Texas due to "significant decreases in ethylene and ethylene derivative demand."
The plant, known as Unit 12, has been idle since December last year, CPChem noted.
A spokeswoman for the Houston-based company said there are no immediate plans to demolish the Unit 12 facility. She said the company has yet to formulate any long-term plans for the plant site.
CPChem also said it plans to keep idle "for the foreseeable future" its 295 000 tonne/year, Unit 22 ethylene cracker at the Sweeny complex. But the spokeswoman told CNI the company sees good prospects for an eventual restart of that plant.
Bruce Bush, general manager of CPChem's olefins and natural gas liquids (NGL) group, noted that "Unit 22 is a very competitive cracker and we expect it to return to service when the market situation improves."
Bush said the decision to permanently shutter the Unit 12 cracker was driven primarily by "a combination of the difficult market environment and pending capital requirements for environmental upgrades" to the unit.
The spokeswoman said all CPChem employees associated with operation of both ethylene units will be reassigned to other duties. But she said an unspecified number of contract workers would be idled by the permanent closure of Unit 12 and the continued idleness of the larger Unit 22.
CPChem said that with output from the decommissioned Unit 12 subtracted from the company's overall ethylene production, it still has ethylene production capacity of 3.45m tonne/year. Of that total, 1.86m tonne of capacity is at the Sweeny complex, located some 50 miles southwest of Houston, with the remaining 1.59m tonne of ethylene capacity equally divided between its Cedar Bayou and Port Arthur, Texas sites.
The company noted that it remains the fourth-largest ethylene producer in the US and the fifth-ranked ethylene producer globally.