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LyondellBasell installs process equipment for PO/TBA project

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Hydrocarbon Engineering,

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 601-t 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 yd3 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. Over 16 000 t 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 optimise 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% 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 lb (470 000 t) of PO and 2.2 billion lb (1 million t) 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 US Gulf Coast. Based on an analysis by the Greater Houston Partnership, LyondellBasell’s US$2.4 billion PO/TBA project is estimated to generate more than US$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 2500 construction jobs at the peak of construction and 160 permanent positions.

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