LyondellBasell US PO/TBA plant turns 50, new unit to start in '21

Source: ICIS News

2019/04/16

HOUSTON (ICIS)--LyondellBasell's propylene oxide and tertiary butyl alcohol (PO/TBA) plant in Bayport, Texas celebrated its 50th anniversary on Tuesday, as the company prepares to start up another such plant in nearby Channelview in 2021.

"When we commit to these sites, we think in terms of decades," said Bob Patel, CEO. The company's Houston refinery is even older than the PO/TBA plant, celebrating its 10th decade in 2018.

The company is on schedule to start up a new PO/TBA plant in 2021, Patel said. It will have the capacity to produce 470,000 tonnes/year of PO (1bn lb/year) and 1m tonnes/year of TBA.

The $2.4bn project represents the largest investment project in the history of the company.

Chemical companies use PO to produce propylene glycol (PG), polyols and surfactants among many others.

About $640m of the $2.4bn project will expand the Bayport complex. The new capacity will convert TBA into mainly ethyl tertiary butyl ether (ETBE), although it will have the flexibility to produce methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) as well. Most of these ethers will be exported to Latin America and other markets.

The new plant in Channelview will be more efficient in terms of the environment and in producing higher yields of PO, Patel said.

For now, the original plant is the most efficient of its kind, said Stephen Goff, Bayport site manager.

The plant was the first to commercialise tertiary butyl hydro peroxide  (TBHP) technology to produce PO, Goff said.

The first unit of the complex was started up by Oxirane Chemical, a joint venture made up of Atlantic Ritchfield Co (ARCO) and Halcon International. In 1980, ARCO would buy Halcon's stake in Oxirane. In 1998, Lyondell acquired ARCO Chemical.

The plant has since won the distinguished safety award from the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM).

During the anniversary celebration, LyondellBasell recognised some of the personnel that had first started working at the plant at least 40 years ago. One had started the first year that the plant began operations.

"You who have been here for so long have paved the way for our future," Patel said.

He highlighted the sense of ownership that the operators had at Bayport. "That's what differentiates great plants."

Image above shows the Bayport complex. Photo by LyondellBasell