LyondellBasell mulls debottlenecking crackers in Channelview and La Porte, Texas, that may add at least 500 million lbs./year of ethane-based ethylene capacity; firm may also build new cracker

LOS ANGELES , May 3, 2011 () – LyondellBasell Industries NV is mulling plans to debottleneck its crackers at two sites in Texas and is also looking at building a new cracker, said the Dutch-based chemical company’s CEO on Monday, reported ICIS news May 2.

The debottlenecking projects, which would be at Channelview and La Porte, Texas, are in the early engineering stages, said Jim Gallogly. If done, the company’s ethane-based ethylene capacity would increase by at least 500 million pounds per year, he said.

Gallogly did not specify if the debottlenecking would apply to both of LyondellBasell’s Channelview crackers, or just to one, according to the Surrey, England-based chemical news service.

Constructing a new cracker is in the study phase, said Gallogly, but if LyondellBasell decided to go ahead it would do so with another company in a concept he called a condo cracker.

LyondellBasell is the latest of many companies to indicate either studies or commitments to expand ethylene capacity in the U.S. as the country’s supplies of natural gas liquids grow due to the arrival of shale gas, ICIS news reported.

Dow Chemical Co. plans to build a world-scale ethylene plant on the U.S. Gulf Coast for start-up in 2017, while Westlake Chemical Co. is expanding ethylene capacity at its Lake Charles, Louisiana, complex.

Studies regarding possibly building ethane crackers are underway at Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. LP, and INEOS Group is considering debottlenecking its cracker in Chocolate Bayou, Texas, reported ICIS news.

Ethane feedstock gives these crackers in the U.S. a cost advantage over their counterparts in other parts of the globe, which rely on oil-based naphtha.

The primary source of this article is ICIS news, Surrey, England, on May 2, 2011.

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