LyondellBasell starts construction world's largest PO, TBA plants

LyondellBasell starts construction of world's largest PO, TBA plants

5:32 AM, 23rd August 2018
LyondellBasell team members along with Bob Patel and industry leaders officially break ground on the world’s largest PO/TBA plant.
LyondellBasell team members along with Bob Patel and industry leaders officially break ground on the world's largest PO/TBA plant.

HOUSTON, US/ LONDON, UK: LyondellBasell has officially broken ground on what will be the largest propylene oxide (PO) and tertiary butyl alcohol (TBA) plant ever built.

The Houston area project is estimated to cost $2.4 billion, representing the single-largest capital investment in the company's history. Once in operation, the plant will produce 1 billion pounds (470,000 metric tons) of PO and 2.2 billion pounds (1 million metric tons) of TBA annually. Startup of the plant is planned for 2021.

To optimize product balances and realize synergies between LyondellBasell sites, two facilities will be constructed on existing manufacturing sites. The 140-acre PO/TBA plant will be built at the LyondellBasell Channelview Complex located in Channelview, Texas while an associated 34-acre ethers unit, which will convert TBA to oxyfuels, will be built at the company's Bayport Complex in Pasadena, Texas.

The company chose to build the new plant at these existing locations along the Texas Gulf Coast because of their proximity to low-cost feedstocks and the transportation infrastructure needed to ship products to markets around the globe.

The project will create more than 2,200 construction jobs at the peak of construction and 160 permanent positions.

Built to meet global demand

PO is used to make bedding, furniture, carpeting, coatings, building materials and adhesives, while TBA will be converted to two ether-based oxyfuels, methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) and ethyl tertiary butyl ether (ETBE). Both MTBE and ETBE are high-octane gasoline components that help gasoline burn cleaner and reduce emissions from automobiles.  

Global demand for urethanes is projected to grow by 4 to 5 percent over the next five years due to emerging economies in Asia and India and their increased demand for consumer products. The global TBA market is expected to increase by 3 percent annually between 2018 and 2028, as drivers and governments in Asia Pacific and Latin America seek to improve air quality with cleaner-burning gasoline. 

LyondellBasell plans to sell the PO and derivative products to both domestic and global customers, while the oxyfuels will be primarily sold into Latin America and Asia. A portion of the TBA will remain in the domestic market in the form of high purity isobutylene which is used in tires and lubricants. The majority of the products will be exported via the Houston Ship Channel.

Company growth

The PO/TBA project is part of LyondellBasell's $5 billion organic growth program taking place on the US Gulf Coast. LyondellBasell recently completed ethylene expansion projects at the company's La Porte, Channelview and Corpus Christi sites in Texas, finalizing a multi-year plan to increase annual ethylene capacity in the US by 2 billion pounds (900,000 metric tons).

Additionally, LyondellBasell is currently constructing a world-scale polyethylene (PE) plant at its La Porte Complex, which utilizes the company's proprietary Hyperzone PE technology and will more than double that site's PE capacity to 2 billion pounds (900,000 metric tons) per year.

"Today's ground-breaking is a historic moment for our company. This plant will be the largest of its kind, built to meet the rising global demand for urethanes used by billions of consumers each day and clean-burning oxyfuels that will help improve air quality around the world," said Bob Patel, CEO of LyondellBasell.

"The ground-breaking on this new project not only brings more job opportunities for Texans, it also adds to the growing diversity of our booming economy. t is because of investments from companies like LyondellBasell that the Texas economy continues to be the envy of the nation. I thank LyondellBasell for their investment and wish them continued success," added said Greg Abbott, Texas Governor.

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