OUTLOOK ’17: First US cracker wave to start in New Year

Al Greenwood


Five crackers are expected to start up in 2017, adding 7m tonnes/year of capacity. Chevron Phillips Chemical is expected to start up its 1.5m tonnes/year cracker in the second half of 2017 at its Cedar Bayou plant in Baytown, Texas. (CP Chem)
Five crackers are expected to start up in 2017, adding 7m tonnes/year of capacity. Chevron Phillips Chemical is expected to start up its 1.5m tonnes/year cracker in the second half of 2017 at its Cedar Bayou plant in Baytown, Texas. (CP Chem)

By Al Greenwood

HOUSTON (ICIS)–The first wave of new US cracker and polyethylene (PE) plants will start operations next year.

Five crackers are expected to start up in 2017, including the restart of an idled unit by Indorama, according to ICIS. In all, they will add 7m tonnes/year of capacity.

The following table shows the crackers expected to start up.





Chevron Phillips Chemical

1.5m tonnes

Cedar Bayou, Texas

H2 2017

ExxonMobil Chemical

1.5m tonnes

Baytown, Texas

H2 2017

Dow Chemical

1.5m tonnes

Freeport, Texas


Occidental Chemical/Mexichem

544,000 tonnes

Ingleside, Texas

Q1 2017


370,000 tonnes

Lake Charles, Louisiana

Q4 2017

The Indorama cracker will supply feedstock for its ethylene oxide (EO) production, allowing it to become an integrated US producer of polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

Occidental Chemical and Mexichem will use the ethylene from its cracker to supply feedstock to a nearby vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) plant. The VCM will then be shipped to Mexichem’s polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plants in Latin America.

The other crackers will be integrated with PE plants that will start up in 2017, as shown below. 






1.3m tonnes

PE (premium)

Mont Belvieu, Texas

Chevron Phillips

1m tonnes

HDPE, LLDPE, other

Sweeny, Texas

Dow Chemical


PE (high-value), LDPE

Freeport, Texas

Formosa Plastics was among the companies that announced plans for a new cracker and PE plants at its complex in Point Comfort, Texas. The company has started construction on the 1.59m tonne/year cracker, but has not provided updates on the PE plants.

Braskem plans to start up an ethane terminal at its Camacari complex in Bahia state in Brazil by the second half of 2017. The terminal will supply ethane to a cracker, which Braskem is converting so it can use up to 15% ethane.

Meanwhile, NOVA Chemicals could make a final investment decision on a new linear low density PE (LLDPE) plant in mid-2017. The capacity would be around 400,000 tonnes/year.

The US will also get a new PET plant in 2017, when Mossi & Ghisolfi (M&G) is expected to start up a new 1.1m tonne/year unit in Corpus Christi, Texas.

The nation will also get its third propane dehydrogenation (PDH) unit, as Enterprise is expected to start up its 750,000 tonne/year plant in Mont Belvieu, Texas.

Formosa has started construction of its own PDH unit in Point Comfort, but no recent start-up date has been announced.

REXtac could complete the refurbishment of a propane splitter, which will provide feedstock for two idled polypropylene (PP) lines in west Texas. Assuming continuous operations, the two lines have a total capacity of 438m lb/year (200,000 tonnes/year).

Inter Pipeline may start construction of a 525,000 tonne/year PDH unit in Alberta province in Canada. If Inter Pipeline develops the project, it should start operations in 2021.

The company may also build a polypropylene (PP) plant to receive the propylene. This plant could also start in 2021.

Braskem could announce an investment decision on a proposed 450,000 tonne/year PP plant in La Porte, Texas. It has already chosen WR Grace’s Unipol technology for the plant.

LyondellBasell should make an investment decision on a propylene oxide/tertiary butyl alcohol (PO/TBA) plant it would build in Houston. If built, it will have a capacity of 1bn lb/year (450,000 tonnes/year) of PO and 2bn lb/year of TBA.

For other plants, INEOS is developing a new 20,000 tonne/year polyalphaolefins (PAO) in La Porte, Texas, to be commissioned in the first quarter.

Chevron Phillips Chemical will expand its low-viscosity PAO plant by 10,000 tonnes/year at its Cedar Bayou plant in Baytown, Texas.

Brazil-based Elekeiroz plans to start up a new bioplasticizer plant at its Varzea Paulista site near Sao Paulo in late 2017 or early 2018. It is developing the project under a joint venture with Nexoleum.

This is a two-phase project. Under the second phase, Elekeiroz will move Nexoleum’s existing 8,000 tonne/year plant near Sao Paulo to the Elekeiroz site for total joint capacity of 24,000 tonnes/year. This second phase could take about a year.

K+S expects production to start at its Legacy potash mine in Canada. The site should reach its target capacity of 2m/year by the end of 2017.

A Yara and BASF joint venture plans to start up a 750,000 tonne/year ammonia plant in Freeport, Texas, at the end of 2017.  


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