LyondellBasell developing world's largest PO / TBA plant

LyondellBasell, one of the world's largest plastics, chemical and refining companies, on Thursday announced that it is advancing plans to build the world's largest propylene oxide (PO) and tertiary butyl alcohol (TBA) plant.

The plant will have an annual production capacity of around one billion pounds of propylene oxide and two billion pounds of tertiary butyl alcohol.

The project, to be located in Houston, Texas, considered to be the largest of its kind, is expected to create up to 2,500 construction jobs and approximately 100 permanent positions, the company said in a release.

"We are moving forward in a deliberate fashion to develop what could become the single largest capital investment in LyondellBasell's history," said chief executive officer Bob Patel.  "We continue to believe that the combination of low-cost natural gas liquids available on the US Gulf Coast, along with our leading proprietary PO/TBA technology, will allow this proposed project to capture maximum advantage of market opportunities."

LyondelBasell said it would soon begin front-end engineering design work and file environmental permit applications.  This will also include funding to order long lead-time equipment.

A final investment decision is expected to be made following completion of the engineering design work.

The company's complex located in Channelview, Texas was selected as the site for the PO / TBA unit. The Bayport Choate site near Pasadena was selected for an ethers unit, which will produce oxy-fuels for high octane gasoline.

A split facility design between the Channelview and Bayport sites will optimise the product balances between the sites and create additional synergies.  

This project is part of LyondellBasell's previously announced $3 - $4 billion expansion effort that will take place on the US Gulf Coast over the next five years.  LyondellBasell has already completed work on ethylene expansion projects at the company's La Porte and Channelview sites in Texas.  A third ethylene expansion project is currently underway in Corpus Christi.

LyondellBasell first announced the PO/TBA project in August of 2014. 

The plant will sell PO in global markets to meet growing demand for polyurethanes, which are used primarily for the manufacture of bedding, furniture, carpets and car seats.

TBA and its derivatives, which include oxy-fuels, will be sold to meet the need for high octane gasoline blending components as well as for use in manufacturing synthetic rubber and lubricant additives.