Valero Energy Corp. plans to become a major player in the production of petrochemicals by building a US$700 mln methanol plant at its St. Charles refinery near New Orleans. Valero will take advantage of low-cost natural gas from shale formations. The methanol plant, to be completed in late 2015 or early 2016, will produce 1.6 mln tpa. Valero has added two hydrogen units at its St. Charles plant that can be used to produce the methanol, thus reducing the cost of building the plant is significantly.
Valero, the nation’s largest independent refiner, plans to sell the methanol it produces to “any of the big petrochemical companies or industries,” spokesman Day said. Many petrochemical companies now must import methanol “so we could provide a domestic source, helping them push out imports,” he said.