Engineering News

Westlake Launches Ethylene Capacity Expansion Program
April 5, 2011

Westlake Chemical Corp. on Tuesday announced an expansion program to include increasing the ethane-based ethylene capacity at Lake Charles, La., and the evaluation of expansion options and the upgrade of ethylene production facilities at Calvert City, Ky., in order to capitalize on new low cost ethane and other "light" feedstocks being developed in North America.

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 as planned maintenance turnarounds occur in order to provide ethylene for existing internal derivatives units and the merchant market. The first cracker expansion will increase capacity by approximately 230-240 million pounds per year, while also increasing feedstock flexibility. It is expected this project would be completed by late 2012 and a second expansion concluded by the end of 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."

Westlake Chemical Corp. is an international manufacturer and supplier of petrochemicals, polymers and fabricated products with headquarters in Houston, Texas. The company's range of products includes: ethylene, polyethylene, styrene, propylene, caustic, VCM, PVC and PVC building products including pipe, windows and fence.

Source: Westlake Chemical Corp.

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