LyondellBasell to Delay Work on PO/TBA Plant

01.04.2020 -

LyondellBasell is slowing engineering and construction work on its 470,000 t/y world-scale US propylene oxide (PO) and tertiary butyl alcohol (TBA) plant at Channelview Texas, citing “ongoing concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic “and orders from the US government to limit human contact.

The olefins and polyolefins giant headquartered at Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and managed from Houston, Texas, USA, said the project on which it broke ground in August 2018 is about 30% complete, with installation of key equipment and towers in progress.

“Because the PO/TBA site is currently under construction and not producing needed products yet, in the interest of health and safety we believe it is prudent to limit construction activities at this time," said Torkel Rhenman, executive vice president, Intermediates & Derivatives (I&D).

Rhenman said the group “remains committed to the completion of this strategic investment incorporating our low-cost, next generation PO/TBA technology. Over the next several weeks, we will be working with our contractors and suppliers to develop a revised project timeline."

Billed as the largest of its kind globally, the $2.4 billion facility at the same time the largest investment in the history of the company up to now was expected to go onstream in mid-2021.

The project has a split-facility design to optimize synergies between two existing LyondellBasell sites. Alongside the PO/TBA plant at Channelview, an associated ethers unit is being built at its Bayport Complex in Pasadena, Texas.

In addition to the 470,000 t/y of PO, output will include 1 million t/y of TBA.

LyondellBasell said the decision to slow construction of on the project will have no impact on current operations at its Channelview or Bayport sites, which are designated as critical infrastructure. It did not elaborate on how it plans to limit worker contact at such facilities, which may be highly automated.

Shell Chemical Appalachia, part of Shell Chemicals’ US arm, recently announced plans to temporarily suspend construction at its $6illion petrochemical complex currently going up at Monaca, Pennsylvania, due to the coronavirus. Shell said it was honoring a request from health authorities in Beaver County, who fear risks to workers at the site, where the construction was in its “peak phase.”