LyondellBasell restarts methanol plant in Texas

16:47 PM | January 2, 2014 | Francinia Protti-Alvarez

LyondellBasell Industries says it has completed the previously announced restart of the company's methanol plant at Channelview, TX. The plant was placed back into service in the fourth quarter of 2013 to take advantage of low-cost natural gas feedstock from shale formations, the company says. The unit had been out of service since 2004 due to the rising cost of natural gas at that time. LyondellBasell's methanol production capacity at Channelview is 780,000 m.t./year, according to IHS Chemical data.

LyondellBasell says it is a major producer and global supplier of acetic acid, a key methanol derivative. Another major application of methanol is to produce methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE). The company's MTBE capacity at Channelview is 503,000 m.t./year, according to IHS Chemical data.

"The methanol plant restart is the first in a series of US Gulf Coast projects by LyondellBasell to take advantage of the natural gas price advantage that we enjoy from shale gas. The methanol plant project and our other significant debottleneck projects will bring new capacity into our system earlier and at substantially lower cost than constructing entirely new facilities," says Patrick Quarles, senior v.p./intermediates and derivatives at LyondellBasell.

LyondellBasell's previously announced debottlenecking projects include expansions of ethylene capacity at La Porte, Channelview, and Corpus Christi, TX, that will add a combined 1.8 billion lbs/year of capacity; and the expansion of a polyethylene (PE) facility in Matagorda County, TX, the company says. LyondellBasell said earlier that the ethylene expansions would be split 800 million lbs/year each at Corpus Christi and La Porte, and the rest at Channelview, with the three projects due for completion in 2015. The expansions will increase LyondellBasell's total US ethylene capacity by 18%. The PE debottlenecking will add 220 million lbs/year of capacity in 2014.

LyondellBasell's ethylene capacity in Europe totals 1.88 million m.t./year across three sites: Berre, France; and Münschmünster and Wesseling, Germany, according to IHS Chemical data.