Ineos mulls $803m TX expansion, Veolia to expand in La, US chemical activity flat in June

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Located on the Houston ship channel, the 300-acre INEOS Battleground Manufacturing Complex in La Porte, Texas was originally built in 1956 to produce high-density polyethylene resin to feed the growing Hula Hoop craze. Image: Ineos

Ineos mulls $803m expansion

Ineos is considering an $803 million expansion at its La Porte petrochemical complex in Texas, according to government documents.

Ineos’ subsidiary, Ineos Styrolution America, has applied for state tax incentives with the Texas Comptroller’s Office for a potential ethylbenzene and styrene monomer unit at its petrochemical complex in La Porte. Ineos is also considering building the project at its other locations in the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The proposed project would create 1,500 jobs at peak construction. Construction would begin in 2021 with the unit operating by the end of 2023.

While engineering and design is well underway, a final investment decision has not yet happened.

Veolia to expand La sulfur regeneration plant

Veolia North America will expand its regeneration plant in Darrow, Louisiana, yielding a 15% increase in sulfuric acid regeneration capacity.

The State of Louisiana offered Veolia an incentive package which includes a $450,000 modernization tax credit.

The facility converts spent sulfuric acid into fresh commercial-quality sulfuric acid, and produces sulfur-based products for the refining industry.

Refineries use sulfuric acid as a catalyst in alkylation units to produce high-octane gasoline.

Refiners are currently pushing U.S. acid regeneration circuit to 100% because of increased demand for alkylate.

US chemical activity flat in June

The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB), a leading economic indicator created by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), was flat in June on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis, following three monthly gains. On a year-over-year (Y/Y) basis, the barometer is up 0.3 percent (3MMA).

Image: American Chemistry Council

The unadjusted measure of the CAB retreated 0.2 percent in June and fell 0.3 percent in May.

The diffusion index rose to 65% in June. The diffusion index marks the number of positive contributors relative to the total number of indicators monitored. The CAB reading for May was revised downward by 0.38 points and that for April by 0.22 points.

“The slowing economy and rising trade tensions have weighed on business confidence and investment, resulting in mixed manufacturing activity,” said Kevin Swift, chief economist at ACC. “In summary, the CAB reading continues to signal gains in U.S. commercial and industrial activity through late 2019, but at a moderated pace.”

Production-related indicators in June were slightly positive. Trends in construction-related resins, pigments and related performance chemistry were mixed and suggest further slow gains in housing activity. Plastic resins used in packaging were positive, while those for consumer and institutional applications were mixed. Performance chemistry and U.S. exports were mixed. Equity prices rebounded this month, while product and input prices rose. Inventory and other indicators were positive.

US import volume increases

U.S. import volume increased 7.4% in 2018 vs. 2017, with more than 24 million TEUs imported across maritime ports, according to the 2019 U.S. Ports Report released by Descartes Datamyne.

Despite a sluggish Q1, Los Angeles (ranked #1) increased TEU imports by 3.43% from 2017, and totals amounted to 4.84 million in 2018.

For the second year in a row, the Port of Mobile has maintained its position among the top U.S ports, this year climbing to 19th.

The Port of Long Beach, the second most active port in the country, maintained a record pace set in Q1 of 2018, closing out the year with a 7.9% increase in volume over an already record-setting 2017.