LyondellBasell’s PO/TBA project installs major pieces of process equipment

Construction on LyondellBasell’s, world-scale propylene oxide (PO) and tertiary butyl alcohol (TBA) plant has achieved another key milestone. The installation of several large pieces of process equipment, including a gargantuan 601-ton distillation tower that soars 25 stories high, is now taking place, marking a shift from infrastructure work to vertical assembly.

The first part of the project focused on laying the foundation for the future plant, including pouring nearly 83,000 cubic yards of concrete and installing 160 miles of pipe at two construction sites. This next phase of construction will display visible changes to observers – with large cranes dotting the skyline as they move enormous pieces of equipment into place. The sheer size of the project is hard to comprehend but the numbers tell the story better – over 16,000 tons of steel, 700 miles of cable, 26,000 valves and 92,000 instruments will be installed over the course of construction.

“I am pleased to see our team making significant headway in safely driving the next phase of this project forward,” said Michael VanDerSnick, LyondellBasell senior vice president for Americas Manufacturing. “Not only is the PO/TBA project a key part of our company’s global growth strategy, but construction of the plant is also bringing good jobs to the area, supporting local businesses and creating tax revenue for the region. Once built, it will meet rising global demand for urethanes that people use every day and create cleaner-burning oxyfuels that help improve air quality.”

The PO/TBA project has a split-facility design to optimize synergies between two existing LyondellBasell sites. A 140-acre PO/TBA plant is being built at the company’s Channelview, Texas facility and an associated 34-acre ethers unit is being built at the company’s Bayport Complex in Pasadena, Texas. Construction on the overall project has now surpassed 30 percent completion. Over the next few months, manpower will continue to ramp up at both sites as more large pieces of equipment are delivered and installed.

“We are now a year and a half into construction with 4.75 million man hours on the job,” said Joe Dorsch, PO/TBA project director. “Making sure each and every person on the job goes home safely is our number one priority and maintaining this rigorous focus has helped us achieve several key safety milestones for the project.”

The PO/TBA plant will produce 1 billion pounds (470,000 metric tons) of PO and 2.2 billion pounds (1 million metric tons) of TBA annually once in operation. PO is used to make bedding, furniture, carpeting, coatings, building materials and adhesives, while TBA is converted to produce two ether-based oxyfuels, methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) and ethyl tertiary butyl ether (ETBE). Both MTBE and ETBE are high-octane gasoline components that help gasoline burn cleaner and reduce emissions from automobiles.

The PO/TBA project broke ground in August 2018 and is part of the company’s multi-billion dollar series of investments along the U.S. Gulf Coast. Based on an analysis by the Greater Houston Partnership, LyondellBasell’s $2.4 billion PO/TBA project is estimated to generate more than $450 million in tax benefits for the county, school district, community college and other local taxing districts over a 10-year period. The total project will create approximately 2,500 construction jobs at the peak of construction and 160 permanent positions.

The PO/TBA projectis just one way LyondellBasell is capturing new opportunities that position the company for the future. Other ways include:
* building additional facilities like the Hyperzone polyethylene plant in La Porte, Texas;
* creating sustainable solutions in support of the circular economy like MoReTec which advances chemical recycling of plastics;
* establishing strategic business enterprises like a Memoranda of Understanding to form two joint ventures in China which will produce chemicals used in a variety of applications including construction materials, packaging and furnishings; and
* increasing focus on sustainability by creating and launching the first global, cross-value chain Alliance to End Plastic Waste, and with construction of a small-scale pilot plant in Ferrara, Italy to convert post-consumer plastic waste into feedstock.


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