US firm to build ethylene-to-alkylate plant in Texas

Author: Al Greenwood

2019/11/20

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Next Wave Energy Partners made a final investment decision (FID) to build an ethylene-to-alkylate plant in Pasadena, Texas, off of the Houston Ship Channel, the US-based company said on Wednesday.

Next Wave did not reveal the cost of the project.

The plant, called Project Traveler, will have a capacity to produce 28,000 bbl/day of alkylate, Next Wave said.

It can consume more than 1.2bn lb/year (544,000 tonnes/year) of ethylene, the company said. Next Wave will receive the feedstock from multiple pipelines. It can also receive feedstock and deliver product by rail.

Initial production should start in mid-2022. The company already secured long-term customer contracts for the majority of the plant's output.

The company will deliver the alkylate through direct-connection pipelines to major gasoline blending terminals in Pasadena.

Equity financing is being provided by Energy Capital Partners and members of Next Wave's senior management.

The company has already started engineering for a possible second alkylation unit, said Michael Bloesch, CEO.

"We believe our premier location near the Houston Ship Channel offers our customers unsurpassed connectivity to feedstock supply, product offtake and gasoline blending and distribution infrastructure," he said.

Next Wave will market its alkylate under the trade name Optimate. The company says its alkylate will have qualities that are superior to those from refineries.

The company's alkylate will have 96.0 road octane (98.0 Research Octane Number), a 3.5 Reid vapor pressure and a sulphur content of no more than 5 parts per million.

It applied for tax incentives to build the project, as revealed by government documents early this year. That document also called for an olefins plant.

Alkylation units react olefins with natural gas liquids (NGLs) to produce alkylate, a high-octane gasoline blendstock. They are often integrated in refineries, where they receive refinery-grade propylene (RGP) from fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) units.

“Project Traveler was conceived to benefit from two important trends in our industry – growing demand for additional octane and abundant domestic supplies of natural gas liquids and their derivatives,” said Patrick Diamond, executive chairman of Next Wave.

“By starting with a chemically pure feedstock and thereby avoiding the feedstock constraints typically found in refinery alkylation, our facility will produce one of the highest quality alkylate products available in North America, which is particularly attractive for blending the cleaner-burning gasoline required by the high performance engines of today and tomorrow.”

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