LyondellBasell to Delay Refining Exit to 2025

01.06.2023 - LyondellBasell plans to keep its oil refining business in operation longer than planned. Rather than pull the plug at the end of 2023 as announced earlier, the olefins and polyolefins giant said this week it would delay its exit until the end of the 2025 first quarter.

The Dutch-headquartered, US-managed company said favorable inspections and consistent performance have given the confidence to continue safe and reliable operations at the site on the Houston ship channel as it ponders appropriate scenarios for use of the property.

While “moderate maintenance spending” will be needed to support the extension, LyondellBasell said it “remains committed” to ceasing operation of its oil refining business, which has capacity to process 268,000 bbl/day of crude.

In the past, the company had suggested the Houston property could house a hydrogen facility, as one of two regional hubs — in Houston and Cologne, Germany. In autumn 2022, it said it planned to partner with Chevron, Air Liquide and German energy utility Uniper to pursue a Gulf Coast hydrogen project.

With the extension, the petrochemicals leader said the impact of the refining phase-out on the workforce could be minimized and a smoother transition facilitated while it continues to develop future options for the site.

In the wider sense, LyondellBasell foresees Houston becoming a hub for a “profitable” Circular and Low Carbon Solutions business, supporting the growth of its Circulen circular plastics portfolio.

Multiple options are being evaluated, including recycled and renewable-based feedstocks and green and blue hydrogen, as LyondellBasell aligns the Houston site for future growth in products for sustainable living, said CEO Peter Vanacker.

The CEO added that the projects under development will connect to existing assets in the Houston area and use existing infrastructure on the refining site including hydrotreaters, pipelines, tanks, utilities, buildings and laboratories.

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist