Industrial Info's Chemical Processing database is tracking $131.42 billion in active petrochemical companies creating projects that are under construction worldwide, including about $74 billion worth that are set to finish construction in 2018.

About $22.8 billion worth of the active petrochemical projects are in Texas and Louisiana, including:

  • Sasol Limited's $4 billion ethylene unit addition at its Lake Charles Petrochemical Complex in Westlake, Louisiana, which is a major component of the $11 billion Lake Charles Chemical Project. The 1.5 million-metric-ton-per-year unit will use ethane as the primary petrochemical products to feed additional downstream units planned for the site.
  • Exxon Mobil Corporation's $2.5 billion ethylene unit addition at its olefins facility in Baytown, Texas. Also intended to support its company's downstream units, the 3 billion-pound-per-year unit's construction will include tie-ins to an outside battery limits (OSBL) project.

Both of these projects are expected to finish construction before the end of the year.

INEOS recently awarded the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for construction of a polyalphaolefin (PAO) unit at its petrochemical complex in Chocolate Bayou, Texas to SNC-Lavalin Constructors Incorporated (TSX:SNC) (Montreal, Quebec) and joint-venture partner JV Driver (Pasadena, Texas). The low-viscosity PAO unit, which is based on proprietary and differentiated INEOS Oligomers technology, is expected to come online in October 2019, with a production capacity of 120,000 tons per year. The unit will receive feedstock from a linear alpha olefin (LAO) unit currently under construction.

The LAO unit will be able to produce 420,000 tons per year of linear alpha olefins, plus 85,000 tons per year of 1-Decene, a raw material used by PAO units. Construction on the $220 million LAO addition began in January and is expected to wrap up in June 2019. For more information, see Industrial Info's project reports on the LAO and PAO additions.

In addition to maintenance expenditures, the investment includes Westlake's portion of the construction of a joint venture ethane cracker in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and long-lead equipment for its vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) expansions in Geismar, Louisiana, and in Germany, said Chief Financial Officer Mark Steven Bender during the company's May 3 quarterly earnings conference call.

First announced in February, the Geismar PVC and VCM expansions are expected to be completed in late 2019. They include increasing PVC capacity by 270 million pounds per year and VCM capacity 150 million pounds per year. Final approval of the expansions is expected by third-quarter 2018.

In all, Industrial Info is tracking more than $729 million in project activity by Westlake, including maintenance turnarounds. In addition, Industrial Info is tracking a 1 million-metric-ton-per-year ethane cracker addition in Louisiana, which is a joint venture between Axiall (owned by Westlake Chemical) and Lotte Chemical (Seoul, South Korea). The project is expected to wrap up in early 2019.

About $18.1 billion worth of the active petrochemical projects are in the Middle East, including:

  • Oman Oil Company's new, $1.5 billion ethylene plant and $800 million addition of a high-density polyethylene (HDPE) unit at its petrochemical plant in Shoar, Oman. The ethylene plant is expected to produce about 1.92 billion pounds per year of ethylene, using natural gas as feedstock; the unit addition is expected to result in about 926 million pounds per year of HDPE.
  • Saudi Aramco's Addition of a paraxylene unit at its petrochemical complex in Rabigh, Saudi Arabia. It is expected to produce about 850,000 metric tons per year of paraxylene.

In China, Industrial Info is tracking Shaanxi Yanchang Petroleum Group Company Limited's $790.2 million construction of a polypropylene and polyethylene plant in Yanan, Shaanxi province. The facility will produce 200,000 metric tons per year of polypropylene (PP) and 300,000 metric tons per year of HDPE. It is expected to finish construction this summer.

According to the IEA, the world is expected to add 1.4 million BBL/d in new petrochemical-producing steam crackers over the next five years.

Demand for ethane will expand at the fastest pace in the next five years, rising by 885,000 BBL/d, followed by naphtha with growth of 495,000 BBL/d and liquefied petroleum gas with growth of 40,000 BBL/d, the agency forecast.

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