$2B Chemical Plant Helps Houston Look Forward

Houston, TX road sign.

LyondellBasell, one of the largest chemical processing companies in the world, recently told the Houston Chronicle that the future home of its’ $2 billion chemicals and plastics plant could be Houston. The company is targeting a location along the Gulf Coast, with a final decision about a year away.

The plant would use propane to make chemicals and plastic polypropylene, which is a plastic fiber most commonly used for bumpers and internal car trim. Its lightweight nature helps improve vehicle fuel efficiency.

The company is currently engaged in a vast expansion along the Houston Ship Channel, building a plastics plant in La Porte, Texas and beginning construction on a $2.4 billion chemical complex that bridges the neighboring communities of Channelview and Pasadena in southern Texas. The company attributes much of this growth to the U.S. shale boom that’s keeping the price of natural gas – the principal feedstock used by these plants – lower.

The new facility will also focus on propylene oxide, which is used to make bedding, carpeting, coatings, building materials, and adhesives. Tertiary butyl alcohol will also be produced at the plant, which can be refined into a fuel additive. The facility could showcase the largest production capacity in the world for these chemicals, capable of annual processing rates of one billion pounds of propylene oxide and 2.2 billion pounds of tertiary butyl alcohol.

Construction is scheduled to begin next year, with completion scheduled for 2021. The American Chemistry Council states that the Texas Gulf Coast accounts for nearly 40 percent of the petrochemical plants completed since 2010, or planned through 2023.

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