LyondellBasell to Build PE Plant on US Gulf Coast

  • The La Porte Complex is located on the Houston Ship Channel near the San Jacinto Monument. The site occupies approximately 550 acres and produces ethylene, propylene, linear low-density polyethylene and low-density polyethylene, as well as acetyls which are used to produce acetic acid and vinylacetate monomer (VAM).The La Porte Complex is located on the Houston Ship Channel near the San Jacinto Monument. The site occupies approximately 550 acres and produces ethylene, propylene, linear low-density polyethylene and low-density polyethylene, as well as acetyls which are used to produce acetic acid and vinylacetate monomer (VAM).

LyondellBasell is to go ahead with plans to build an HDPE plant on the US Gulf Coast based on its newly developed proprietary Hyperzone technology. CEO Bob Patel revealed during a conference call to present Q2 results that the company had made a final investment decision on the project. The plant will have an annual capacity of 1.1 billion pounds (about 500,000 t/y), with start-up planned for mid-2019. An exact location was not disclosed. The facility will be the first to use the Hyperzone cascade gas-phase process, which is based on LyondellBasell’s multizone circulating reactor technology.

Hyperzone, said Patel, has the capability to produce a wide range of HDPE products with enhanced properties, many of which have the potential to exceed industry benchmarks. These improvements include better stress crack resistance and an enhanced balance between stiffness and impact strength. In certain applications, Hyperzone PE also allows customers to use less resin per unit produced, improving resource efficiency and costs for customers. The company said it plans to license the technology in the future.

Ethylene feedstock will be sourced in-house as LyondellBasell has recently expanded ethylene capacity at its crackers in La Porte and Channelview, Texas. A third ethylene expansion is currently underway in Corpus Christi, Texas. “We are continuing to invest in growth-oriented projects like Hyperzone PE where we see long-term feedstock advantage,” said Patel, adding that the combination of its latest polyolefins technology and new ethylene capacity from low-cost debottlenecks would provide a good return on investment.

The LyondellBasell investment will join several other new PE projects that are proposed in the US as a result of the extra ethane available from the country’s shale gas boom.

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