LyondellBasell may decide on US PP, PDH by end '18 - CEO

Source: ICIS News


(recast with LyondellBasell clarifying timeline for decision by end of 2018)
Interview article by Joseph Chang

NEW YORK (ICIS)--LyondellBasell is studying a new US polypropylene (PP) as well as a propane dehydrogenation (PDH) project that will be decided upon in 2018, its CEO said on Wednesday.

“We are evaluating markets and working through our assessment process. I anticipate we will have a decision by the end of 2018,” said Bob Patel, CEO of LyondellBasell, in an interview with ICIS.

The PP project would be to mostly meet domestic demand, in contrast to many polyethylene (PE) projects in the US that are targeted for significant exports.

“Unlike the ethylene cost curve, propylene is relatively flatter – you don’t have that significant feedstock arbitrage between regions. If we expand in the US, it will be to meet demand for the Americas,” said Patel.

LyondellBasell will need more propylene feedstock – not just for a new PP project if it moves forward, but for its $2.4bn propylene oxide/tertiary butyl alcohol (PO/TBA) project in Channelview, Texas. The project, scheduled for start-up in mid-2021, will have 470,000 tonnes/year of PO capacity.

“Frankly, we are evaluating our propylene strategy longer term. We are a significant buyer today,” said Patel.

“If we decide to do something on the propylene side, we’ll likely make a decision by the end of 2018,” he added.

While LyondellBasell has a metathesis unit in Channelview that it could run more consistently to produce propylene (from ethylene), it would look to a PDH project for significant on-purpose propylene, said Patel.