LyondellBasell to shutter Chocolate Bayou olefins plant

March 25, 2009

Idled since mid-December, LyondellBasell Industries’ (Alvin, TX) Chocolate Bayou olefins complex will now close. On Feb. 12, LyondellBasell announced plans to indefinitely idle the unit and reduce workforce, but after analyzing the business case for either preserving the site for future restart or permanent shutdown, LyondellBasell opted for the latter on the basis of reduced olefins demand, limited feedstock flexibility at the site, high fixed costs due to scale, and high operational costs related to the site-service agreements. It will be closed by Aug. 4. The Chocolate Bayou plant has a nameplate capacity of 1.2 billion lb/yr of ethylene and 725 million lb/yr of propylene. LyondellBasell was able to reject the lease and permanently shutter the site under the auspices of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

LyondellBasell’s David Harpole told PlasticsToday the facility had a workforce of approximately 250 before December’s shutdown, and that the staff was given 60 days notice in February. As far as future moves, Harpole said all of LyondellBasell’s assets are being assessed as part of its restructuring program but refused to speculate on possible future activities.

The company says its six remaining U.S. crackers will provide adequate volume to satisfy its customers needs. The Chocolate Bayou olefins unit, which is located on property leased to LyondellBasell by Solutia, was operated by its affiliate, Equistar Chemicals LP. LyondellBasell, through its global subsidiaries, has 11 olefins plants worldwide and a rated annual capacity of 14.9 billion lb of ethylene and 8.7 billion lb of propylene. This includes world-scale crackers in the U.S. at Channelview, La Porte, Chocolate Bayou, and Corpus Christi, TX; Clinton, IA; and Morris, IL. In Europe, it has sites at Wesseling and Muenchsmunster, Germany; and Berre, France. Equistar, along with Lyondell Chemical Co. and other affiliates, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Jan. 6, 2009. The company says it’s currently working on a plan to safely and efficiently transfer the site to Solutia. —[email protected]

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