U.S. chemical resin production rises, Next Wave announces new ethlyene-to-alkylate plant, Braskem names new director

News Briefs

Plastic production is on the rise in the U.S. Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Next Wave Energy approves construction of ethylene-to-alkylate plant

Next Wave Energy said on Nov. 20 it reached a positive final investment decision to build a new ethylene-to-alkylate plant in Pasadena, Texas.

Next Wave said the 28,000-barrels-per-day plant will start production of alkylate by mid-2022.

Alkylate is a high-octane gasoline blending component and typically comprises up to 13% of the overall gasoline pool in the United States.

The ethylene to alkylates route, as opposed to traditional refinery-derived alkylate, is cleaner as it can yield a product with lower sulfur content at only five parts per million or less.

There is high demand for alkylate, said Patrick Diamond, the company’s executive chairman. Feedstock in the region is inexpensive, he added.

The plant will consume 1.2 billion pounds per year of ethylene feedstock that will get there through pipelines.

The company did not provide any project cost. However, the Houston Chronicle had said in January that Next Wave contemplated up to a $600 million investment in Houston for an ethylene-to-alkylate plant.

Explosion at Texas butadiente plant, fire force thousands to evacuate

An explosion at the TPC Group plant in Port Neches, Texas on November 27 left three people injured and forced the evacuation of thousands of residents of nearby areas as a fire persisted for days.

“The incident occurred in our South Processing Unit at a tank with finished butadiene,” TPC Group said shortly after the explosion.

The combined production capacity for this 218-acre facility is more than 900 million pounds per year of butadiene and raffinate.

Logistics infrastructure capabilities include pipeline, barge, rail and tank car. Affected products include purchased crude C4s and processed 1,3 butadiene and raffinate, it said.

Butadiene is used in the production of synthetic rubber, with applications including automobile tires and hoses.

U.S. production of major plastic resins rises from 2018

Production in the United States of major plastic resins totaled 7.3 billion pounds during October 2019, an increase of 1.1 percent compared to the same month in 2018, the American Chemistry Council said on Nov. 25.

Year-to-date production was 73.1 billion pounds, a 2.6 percent increase compared with the same period in 2018, it added.

The American Chemistry Council had separately reported on Nov. 21 that its U.S. Chemical Production Regional Index edged higher by 0.2 percent in October following gains of 0.5% in September and 0.2% in August.

Chemical production was mixed over the three-month period with gains in the production of plastic resins, chlor-alkali, pesticides, organic chemicals, consumer products, adhesives, and coatings.

These gains were offset by declines in the output of synthetic rubber, miscellaneous inorganic chemicals, synthetic dyes and pigments, industrial gases fertilizers and manufactured fibers.

Canadian rail strike’s impact on propane supply seen lasting weeks

The Canadian Propane Association (CPA) said on Nov. 26 it welcomes the end of the CN rail strike but warned that the industry may continue to feel the impact of the strike for several weeks.

“We are thankful that the work stoppage has come to a successful conclusion and we congratulate CN, the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference and the federal government for their efforts in ending the labor impasse,” said Dan Kelly, chair of the Canadian Propane Association.

In the coming weeks, the propane industry will still face logistical challenges of getting the supply chain back to normal and the CPA will be working with CN to ensure that the replenishing of propane is a priority in the aftermath of the strike.

The strike by railroad workers, over fatigue and safety concerns, lasted eight days, according to Canadian media reports.

There are two projects underway in Canada still under construction to dehydrogenate propane to make propylene which will be in turn polymerized into polypropylene. 

Top Latin American petrochemical company Braskem names new top executive

Brazilian chemical producer Braskem, the biggest petrochemical company in Latin America, announced on Nov. 21 that Roberto Simoes will become the new chief director starting January 1 to replace current company leader Fernando Musa.

Braskem said that under Musa’s leadership the company “consolidated a position as the world’s sixth biggest resin producer”. Musa will remain in his post until the end of December to support the transition.

Simoes has worked in energy as well as ocean shipping, and was in the past a vice president at Braskem, according to the company.

Separately, in Mexico a subsidiary of Braskem, Braskem Idesa, said it introduced in November to the Mexican market a new high-density polyethylene that includes post-consumption material.

“it’s made up of 30% recycled, with the same processability of virgin grades,” Braskem Idesa said.

Mexico’s Alpek sells two electric power cogeneration plants for $801 million

Mexico’s Alpek, one of the biggest petrochemical companies in the Americas with $6.9 billion in revenue posted for 2018, said on Nov. 25 that it finalized the sale of its two electric power cogeneration plants in the biggest divestment in the company’s history.

Alpek sold its stake in both plants for $801 million, said Jose de Jesus Valdez, Alpek’s CEO.
Alpek will continue to be an energy and steam off-taker from both of these cogeneration plants that will be now owned and operated by ContourGlobal, he added.

The two plants are located in Cosoleacaque and Altamira, Mexico, the company said.

Alpek produces PTA and PET in North America. It is also the largest expandable polystyrene manufacturer in the Americas, and the only caprolactam producer in Mexico. Alpek also runs one of the largest polypropylene facilities in North America, the company said.

Inter Pipeline pledges C$10 million for recycling research

Canada’s pipeline company Inter Pipeline said on Nov. 26 it entered a 10-year agreement known as Plastics Research in Action under which it will fund C$10 million for a program to research recycling opportunities in Canada.

The company is currently building polypropylene capacity in Alberta. It plans to de-hydrogenate propane to make the propylene.

By Petrochemical Update