New Giant Petchems and Plastics Project in Texas

29.03.2017 -

Another new mammoth petrochemicals and plastics project has been announced for the US state of Texas by non-US companies seeking to profit from access to inexpensive shale gas-derived ethane feedstock. To own and operate the complex, plastics producers Borealis, based in Austria, and Canada’s Nova Chemicals have signed a preliminary agreement with Total Petrochemicals and Refining USA, a subsidiary of French oil group Total, to build and operate the cracker and downstream PE units as a joint venture.

The companies said they hope to complete the planning later this year for the two new production facilities due to start up in late 2020. A 1 million t/y ethane cracker is to be built at Port Arthur, Texas, which would feed, among other facilities, the 625,000 t/y polyethylene plant planned for Bayport, Texas. This would use Borealis’ proprietary Borstar technology and would complement a 400,000 t/y PE unit already operated at the site by Total.

Engineering firm CB&I has been awarded a contract for the cracker, which it said is worth about $1.3 billion and covers engineering, procurement and construction. The Texas-based company was previously awarded a contract for the cracker’s front-end engineering and design services and the ethylene technology license. This will be the fourth ethane cracker it has built on the US Gulf Coast.

Commenting on the plans, the prospective partners cited as advantages the strong integration along the value chain, the first-time use of the proprietary Borstar process technology in the Americas and the Texas infrastructure that would provide competitive export access to markets to outside markets to help meet the growing global demand for PE. For Borealis, CEO Mark Garrett said the project is “an attractive opportunity” to work with partners on an integrated site while profiting from its experience with other large scale projects – such as Borouge, its jv with Abu Dhabi National Oil (Adnoc).

The Middle East oil producer holds an interest in both Borealis and Nova. Todd Karran, chief executive of the Canadian company, said the link-up would both broaden its PE portfolio while at the same time offering the chance to collaborate more closely with its sister company Borealis.