LyondellBasell May Add More Shale Gas-fed Ethylene in Texas

25.09.2014 -

Petrochemicals giant LyondellBasell said it is weighing further expansion of its ethylene capacity at Channelview, Texas, potentially adding as much as 550 million lb/y (nearly 250,000 t/y) up to 2017.

The Rotterdam-based group said preliminary engineering work is already under way to assess feasibility of the expansion, which would be in addition to the already announced installation of two large gas-fed cracking furnaces at the Channelview site, expected to lift output by 250 million lb/y by early 2105.

LyondellBasell is grasping with both hands the chances offered by US shale gas-derived ethane. Tim Roberts, executive vice president, Olefins & Polyolefins Americas, said the group's strategy continues to be "the cost-effective expansion of existing facilities to take swift advantage of abundant supplies of low cost natural gas and ethane from shale production."

Last year, CEO Jim Gallogly said all US assets would be configured to run solely on domestically produced feedstocks, with up to 90% coming from natural gas.

Along with the projects at Channelview, LyondellBasell is increasing ethylene capacity at two additional plants in Texas. An 800 million lb/y capacity build-up was recently completed at La Porte, and another 800 million lb/y expansion at Corpus Christi, Texas is due to be completed in late 2015.

The three projects together will add 1.85 billion lb/y of ethylene capacity to LyondellBasell's US total, which, as Roberts noted, is the equivalent of constructing a new stand-alone cracking unit. If the plans just announced are realized, the new capacity addition will total 2.4 billion lb/y.