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Hanwha Chemical plans ethylene plant in the United States based on shale gas

3:08 AM MST | February 15, 2013 | Natasha Alperowicz

Hanwha Chemical (Seoul) plans to build an ethylene plant in the United States in collaboration with a local shale gas company, Korean reports said today, citing an unnamed source. "We are in talks with a US shale gas company, but negotiations have yet to take shape," the Hanwha official said. Further details were not disclosed.

The report reflects continued confidence in the natural gas-driven revitalization of the US chemical industry. US producers have now announced plans for more than 10 million m.t./year of ethylene capacity by the end of this decade, a 30% increase from current levels.

Seven US crackers have been announced so far and several others remain under consideration. Chevron Phillips Chemical, Dow Chemical, ExxonMobil Chemical, Formosa, OxyChem, Sasol, and Shell Chemicals have formally announced plans to build US crackers. Most companies are now in the engineering and permitting phrase with construction on some projects, including Chevron Phillips and ExxonMobil, expected to begin later this year.

Hanwha has been pushing to expand operations to overseas markets. It has a 25% share in a 200,000-m.t./year ethylene vinyl acetate and low-density polyethylene project being built at Al Jubail. Sipchem has 75% in the joint venture. Sipchem and Hanwha are also investing in a downstream equally-owned jv, which will produce special compounds for the wire and cable industry.

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