Expansion of ethylene capacity planned by Westlake with light feedstocks

Westlake Chemical Corp has announced an expansion program that will include an increase in ethane-based ethylene capacity at Lake Charles, LA, evaluation of expansion options and the upgrade of ethylene production facilities at Calvert City, KY to capitalize on new low cost ethane and other "light" feedstocks being developed in North America, as per PRNewswire. As part of this program, each of the company's two light feedstock ethylene crackers in Lake Charles will be expanded. These expansions will commence along with planned maintenance turnarounds planned to provide ethylene for existing internal derivative units and the merchant market. The first cracker expansion will increase capacity by approximately 230-240 mln lbs pa, while also increasing feedstock flexibility. The project is estimated to be completed by H2-2012 and a second expansion concluded by H2-2014. At Calvert City, the company is evaluating conversion from propane to ethane feedstock that is becoming available from increasing North American gas liquids reserves from sources such as shale gas. Additionally, expansion options are being evaluated for the site and engineering and design studies are underway. "New technical developments in the natural gas industry make expansion in North America attractive and we are accelerating engineering and feedstock sourcing efforts in order to reduce our external purchases of ethylene and provide for attractive future Westlake growth," said Albert Chao, Westlake President and CEO. "These projects provide an exciting opportunity to capitalize on advantaged feed sources expected from shale gas reserves at two of our core production sites."
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