Materials giant LyondellBasell Industries — with three ethylene expansions already on the board — is contemplating a fourth.
Officials with the Houston-based firm said in a Sept. 24 news release that they're evaluating a possible expansion that would add 550 million pounds of capacity for ethylene — a key plastics feedstock — at its plant in Channelview, Texas.
Preliminary engineering work is underway for the project, which could be completed sometime in 2017. LyondellBasell already is installing two large cracking furnaces at Channelview that are expected to increase annual ethylene capacity by 250 million pounds. That's on top of a recently completed 800-million-pound capacity expansion in La Porte, Texas, and another 800 millions taking place in Corpus Christi, Texas. The Corpus Christi project is expected to be completed in late 2015.
“Our strategy continues to be the cost-effective expansion of existing facilities to take swift advantage of abundant supplies of low-cost natural gas and ethane from shale production,” olefins and polyolefins Americas executive vice president Tim Roberts said in the release.
Roberts added that the additional ethylene capacity being added at LyondellBasell's three Texas plants — 1.85 billion pounds, and potentially 2.4 billion — is the equivalent of constructing a new stand-alone cracking unit.
In August, the firm announced plans to build a new plant with almost 2 billion pounds of annual capacity for propylene oxide — a polyurethane feedstock — at a plant on the U.S. Gulf Coast. The plant also would make tertiary butyls alcohol and its derivative. Company officials have not decided on the exact location of the plant.
LyondellBasell ranks as North America's largest polypropylene maker and one of the region's largest polyethylene makers. In the first half of 2014, the firm's sales grew almost 7 percent vs. the year-ago period to $23.3 billion, while its profit climbed almost 17 percent to $2.1 billion.
On Wall Street, LyondellBasell's per-share stock price began the year around $79, but was near $112 in late trading Sept. 24 for an increase of almost 42 percent.