Williams looks at joint-venture ethane cracker for Geismar

19:00 PM | May 1, 2014 | Clay Boswell

Williams (Tulsa, OK) is considering the construction of a second ethane cracker at its Geismar, LA, facility. The company currently envisions a greenfield project in which joint-venture partners would build associated derivative capacity.

John Dearborn, sr. v.p./NGL & petchem services, discussed the project, called Geismar 2, in response to a question during the company’s first-quarter earnings call on 1 May.

“We're out in the market right now trying to assess interest in participating in an investment there,” says Dearborn.

The existing cracker has been offline since an explosion in June 2013. At the time, it was in the midst of a $450–500-million project to increase ethylene capacity by 600 million lbs/year, to 1.7 billion lbs/year. Williams expects to restart the expanded plant in June 2014.

“We're going to be talking more about this at the … analyst day coming up in New York, but our concept there is building a cost-advantaged, large cracker. It would be greenfield,” Dearborn says. “We're considering a jv with perhaps one, at most two other partners that would build derivative capacity alongside it…. [W]e would take our volumes and sell them into the market on a fee-for-service basis.”

Joint-venture crackers seem to be an emerging trend in the US. OxyChem and Mexichem are building a 50-50 joint-venture cracker at Ingleside, TX, that will begin operations in early 2017. In February, Axiall announced plans to build a 50-50 joint-venture cracker with Lotte Chemical at Lake Charles, LA. On 29 April, Lion Copolymer said that it is considering a shared investment in an ethane cracker.