TARRAGONA, Spain (ICIS)--Dow Chemical’s cracker in Tarragona is fully flexible already with capability to crack naphtha, propane and butane, an executive for the US chemical major in Spain said on Thursday.
Quepa Diaz, director of Dow’s operations at Tarragona’s chemical park, said the company’s facility in the region can crack propane and butane simultaneously.
“With the cracker at full capacity, our capability for liquefied petroleum gases [LPGs, propane and butane] is between 30% and 35%. If we lower the run rate to 85% or 87%, our LPGs capacity increases to between 50% and 55%,” said Diaz.
He added that depending on the changing downstream demand, the cracker’s flexibility allows the company to process ethylene at maximum rates, lowering cracking of LPGs.
“On the other hand, if what motivates you is the cost, we lower ethylene output, getting more space for LPGs.”
The origin of the feedstocks can vary, added Diaz, although it is becoming increasingly common to import propane from the US or Argentina, something which was not usual just a few years ago.
“The world has changed. Before it was very Mediterranean, but now with the US shale gas boom is less rare to have propane from the Americas. Moreover, propane in the US is a byproduct, they have an excess of it as they are interested more in the ethane, at least until they start the projected propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plants,” concluded Diaz