Shell Plans Fourth LAO Plant in Louisiana

Shell Chemical LP, US arm of the multinational oil and chemicals group, has finalized plans for a new linear alpha olefins (LAO) plant – the fourth at its Geismar, Louisiana, production complex.

The $717 million capital investment, which will add 425,000 t/y of capacity from 2018, bringing total output capability to 1.3 million t/y, will make the site the world’s largest AO producer. Output will be used in a variety of downstream products, including plastics, synthetic lubricants, drilling fluids and household detergents.

In the new facility, one of a growing number of plants capitalizing on shale gas reserves from the US Gulf, Shell will use cheap ethane feedstock.

A recent estimate by the American Chemistry Council – which represents US chemical producers – counted 256 planned US petrochemical projects with a cumulative investment of $158 billion using shale-based feedstocks begun since 2010 and expected on stream by 2023. Nearly 65% of the investment is said to come from companies based abroad.

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