LyondellBasell Picks La Porte for new PE Unit

LyondellBasell has chosen La Porte, Texas – part of the Houston metropolitan area – as the location for its new US Gulf Coast high density polyethylene plant, which will be built at a cost of $700 million. The 500,000 t/y project scheduled to go on stream in 2019 is part of the Netherlands-based, US-managed petrochemicals group’s $4 billion investment scheme planned for Texas, to which a 360,000 t/y expansion of ethylene output at Corpus Christi also belongs.

Bob Patel, LyondellBasell’s CEO, announced plans for the new facility last year but did not name a location or a timetable for construction and commissioning. He called the Gulf Coast location “ideal,” in view of the feedstock advantage – in particular accessibility of shale gas-derived ethane and facilities in the Houston Ship Channel as well as an experienced workforce.

Several other chemical companies or joint venture partnerships are also looking to build petrochemical and plastics plants in the area despite the reduced shale economics.

Patel said the new facility, which will be the first to use the Hyperzone process developed in its R&D centers in Frankfurt, Germany, and Ferrara, Italy, “represents the next generation of technology.” The technology is claimed to facilitate improved stress crack resistance and an improved balance between stiffness and impact strength. In certain applications, the company says, the technology may also allow customer to use less PE resin per unit produced.

Currently, LyondellBasell has total capacity to produce 3.5 million t/y of HDPE, including capacity at joint ventures. It plans to make the process available for licensing.

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