Westlake to change feed to Kentucky ethylene cracker

Westlake Chemical Corp., Houston, will convert the feed to its Calvert City, Ky., ethylene plant to ethane from propane and increase ethylene production capacity to 630 million lb/year (about 286,000 tonnes/year) from 450 million lb/year.

The expansion and feedstock conversion, said the company’s announcement, will enhance Westlake's “vinyl chain integration” and take advantage of low-cost ethane being developed in the Marcellus shale.

At the same time, Westlake announced plans to expand its existing polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plant in Calvert City to add about 200 million lb/year of capacity to the existing 1.1 billion lb/year capacity. This expansion allows Westlake, it said, to take advantage of increased ethylene production at the site and provide additional PVC resin to growing global demand.

Estimated construction costs for the projects are between $210 and $240 million. The ethylene expansion and feedstock conversion project is to start up in second-quarter 2014, and the PVC expansion in late 2014.

Westlake said the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority has preliminarily approved tax incentives up to $10 million, with an additional $7 million pending approval through the Kentucky Reinvestment Act for the new projects and other work in progress at Calvert City.

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