Plant Engineering

The US Shale Gas Spawns Megaplant Projects in the States

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A Boom in Olefins and Derivatives

Cheap gas and ethane have created a boom in ethylene, propylene and polyolefins facilities. In June, Chevron Phillips confirmed that it would build a tenth cracker furnace at its Sweeny complex (Old Ocean, Texas), increasing the capacity by 91,000 t/y. This will be followed by two polyethylene units, plus a new cracker at the company’s Cedar Bayou plant in Baytown, Texas. Also planned are expansions in alpha olefins and 1-hexene.

Sasol is building a world-scale cracker at Lake Charles, Louisiana, for startup in 2017. This will be followed by a gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant costing eight to eleven billion Euro. The plant will be built in two phases and yield a combined total of four million t/y of synthetic diesel and naphtha. New plants for gas liquefaction, 1-octene/1-hexene and low density polyethylene (LDPE) are already under way at the Lake Charles site and Sasol will also partner Ineos in building a high density polyethylene (HDPE) plant there.

At its site in Freeport, Texas, Dow Chemical is building a new ethylene cracker and a propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant to produce polymer-grade propylene. The projects are part of a three billion Euro Gulf Coast expansion driven by shale gas. BASF Total Petrochemicals (BTP) has just completed a revamp of its cracker at Port Arthur, Texas. A tenth cracking furnace currently being added will come on stream next year.

Mega Plants Boom in the US

Also Williams Olefins is currently expanding cracking capacity at its site in Geismar, Louisiana. Completion was planned for this year, but a serious propylene explosion in June has delayed progress. Westlake Chemical is expanding ethylene production at Calvert City, Kentucky, with the expanded plant expected to come on-stream next year, followed by an increase in PVC capacity. At its facility at Lake Charles, Louisiana, Westlake has also added a new cracker, two polyethylene units and a styrene plant, to be followed by a second cracker by 2015. Occidental Petroleum has announced plans to build an ethylene plant at Ingleside, Texas, by 2014.

Ascend Performance Materials, meanwhile, will use UOP’s C3–Oleflex PDH technology for the the world’s largest on-purpose propylene facility at the Chocolate Bayou complex in Alvin, Texas. Mont Belvieu, Texas, is the site of an expansion by Enterprise Products involving plants for PDH, propylene purification and polypropylene production. Startup of the 750,000 t/y polypropylene plant is planned for 2015.