Lotte Starts Louisiana Cracker Complex

  • Lotte Starts Louisiana Cracker Complex (c) mmmx/ShutterstockLotte Starts Louisiana Cracker Complex (c) mmmx/Shutterstock

Lotte Chemical USA, subsidiary of the Korean petrochemicals group, has started up its $ 3.1 billion chemicals complex at Lake Charles, Louisiana. The investment includes a 1 billion t/y ethane cracker, built at a cost of $1.9 billion, as well as a 700,000 t/y monoethylene glycol (MEG) plant that cost $1.1 billion and is being touted as the largest in the US.

The Korean group, which has just moved its US headquarters from Houston, Texas, to Lake Charles, said the project will benefit from the region’s growing shale gas reserves.

The cracker will be operated as part of an 88:22 joint venture with vinyls specialist Westlake, which bought out Lotte’s original partner Axiall – formerly PPG – in 2016.

Within the first three years of operation, Westlake will have an option to take a share of up to 50% in the facility. This would meet about half the feedstock requirements for its production of VCM, caustic soda, chlorine and ethylene dichloride (EDC).

The Korean project is benefiting from a generous state incentive package, which Governor John Bel Edwards suggested helped Louisiana win out among competitors from other Gulf Coast states. Enticements included a modernization tax credit of USD 4.55m for the cracker alone.

Other encouragements for investing in Louisiana, where the state government hopes the new facilities will create 42,500 new jobs, include incentives of $700,000 for the cracker and $1.47 million for the MEG unit. The site operators can also tap Louisiana’s Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs and receive aid from the state’s workforce training program.

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