Channelview will be the home of the largest PO/TBA plant in the world

LyondellBasell plans to start construction on the world’s largest propylene (PO) and tertiary butyl alcohol (TBA) plant sometime in the second half of next year.

The new plant is estimated to cost $2.4 billion, which is the company’s largest investment for a single project to date. LyondellBasell expects the plant to be finished by the midpoint of 2021.

While under construction, the project estimates to bring 2,500 jobs to the Houston area, and once the plant is complete there will be roughly 160 permanent positions.

“This world-scale project is a key part of our organic growth strategy which is designed to meet rising global demand for both urethanes and cleaner-burning oxyfuels while creating real, long-term value for our shareholders,” commented Bob Patel, the chief executive officer of LyondellBasell. “Our investment in this plant combines the best of both worlds: our leading PO/TBA process technology with proximity to low-cost feedstocks, which gives LyondellBasell a competitive advantage in the global marketplace for these products.”

LyondellBasell is a leader in both refining and in the manufacturing of plastics and chemicals. The company is the world’s largest licensor of polyolefin and polypropylene technologies with customers in roughly one hundred countries.

Propylene is used for making bedding, furniture, carpeting, coatings, building materials, and adhesives. A dedicated side of the new “split facility design” will be for converting tertiary butyl alcohol into two different ether-based oxyfuels, methyl tertiary ether or ethyl tertiary butyl ether. These oxyfuels are added to gasoline to raise the octane rating and allow the gas to burn cleaner and reduce emissions.

Besides this new plant, LyondellBasell has also completed other ethylene expansions along the Texas Gulf Coast. The company is in the midst of a $5 billion organic growth program along the Gulf Coast. The ethylene is produced from the ethane gathered from Texas shale and then used to make plastics, adding to the importance of cheap sources of natural gas liquids from the Permian Basin and other Texas well sites. According to the trade group, the American Chemistry Council, petrochemical companies have spent $70 billion out of the $185 billion on planned new plants along the Texas Gulf Coast between 2010 through 2023.

LyondellBasell estimates the new plant will produce 1 billion pounds of PO and 2.2 billion pounds of TBA on a yearly basis. A large portion of the product will be sold overseas and be shipped via the Houston Ship Channel.

Bob Harvey, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership commented, “We are pleased that LyondellBasell continues to view the Houston area as important to their global operations, creating jobs and opportunities for Houstonians. This new project further advances Houston’s position as a global hub of petrochemical manufacturing, leveraging Houston’s strategic access to the Americas and top markets around the world.”

LyondellBasell new plant is another example of Texas energy and the Port of Houston working together to bring more jobs to Texas.

Article written by HEI contributor Raymond Arrasmith.

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