LyondellBasell moving ahead with Texas PO/TBA plant

OREANDA-NEWS. September 15, 2016. LyondellBasell will break ground on a new PO/TBA plant at its Channelview, Texas, complex in April 2017, a company official said at the Argus JJ&A Methanol Forum.

The plant will provide an additional capacity of 1mn t/yr of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) with a projected start date in 2020, MTBE marketing manager David Dennison said.

Demand for MTBE, a fuel oxygenate component, grows in sympathy with gasoline demand. But globally both MTBE demand and MTBE production capacity increases are expected to outpace gasoline.

Argus DeWitt is forecasting a 2.4pc/yr global growth in gasoline demand through 2020. MTBE demand is projected to increase 3.1pc/yr, implying an additional outright consumption of 3.6mn t/yr in 2020. Announced MTBE production capacity projects will raise global production figures by an additional 3.7mn t/yr in 2020.

The current state of the MTBE supply and demand balance in the Americas is net short, resulting in the region to supplement with incremental imports from Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. North and South America together imported over 207,000 tons in 2015 from Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

Mexico, the largest consumer of MTBE in the Americas, revised its gasoline specifications in August to maintain a 5pc MTBE blend minimum. The specifications banned ethanol use in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey, but retained an allowance for up to 5.8pc ethanol blending in the rest of the country. Ethanol is the prevailing fuel oxygenate gasoline component in the US.