EPA finalizes GHG permits for Texas olefins complex

The US Environmental Protection Agency has issued a final permit to Formosa Plastics Corp. (FPC) to proceed with the third major expansion of its petrochemical complex in Point Comfort, Tex. (OGJ Online, June 3, 2013).

EPA recently issued three final greenhouse gas prevention of significant deterioration construction permits to FPC for the Point Comfort complex.

According to documents posted to EPA’s web site, the three permits for Point Comfort will allow FPC to move forward with construction of the planned expansion, which will include the addition of:

• A low-density polyethylene plant with a production capacity of 625,500 tonnes/year.

• An olefins production unit at the complex as well as a propane dehydrogenation unit (PDH) consisting of 14 cracking furnaces, four PDH reactors, four steam boilers, and other associated equipment.

• Two GE 7EA, 80-Mw natural gas-fired, combined-cycle turbines to the plant’s existing six GE 7EA combined-cycle gas turbines.

The Olefins 3 and associated PDH units will increase the plant’s production capacity of high-purity ethylene by about 1.75 million short tons/year, according to the final permit.

FPC’s capital investment into the expansion exceeds $2 billion, EPA said.

FPC first announced its Point Comfort expansion plans in 2012, at which time it said capital equipment and construction costs for the project would require an investment of more than $1.7 billion, according to a Feb. 27, 2012, release from the company.

The purpose of the Point Comfort expansion was to increase the security and flexibility of the company’s raw and intermediate material supplies, as well as the reliability and breadth of its products, FPC said in 2012.

The expansion also was intended to position FPC to take advantage of increasingly reliable and low-cost North American natural gas feedstock supplies, the company said.

Original plans for the expansion included an 800,000-tpy olefins cracker, an associated 600,000-tpy PDH unit, and a 300,000-tpy LDPE resin plant, according to the 2012 release.

The newly permitted Point Comfort project will mark the third major investment to expand olefins capabilities at the complex. FPC previously commissioned ethylene units with capacities of 816,000 tpy and 680,000 tpy at the site in 2001 and 1994, respectively (OGJ Online, Mar. 11, 2002; Apr. 10, 1995; July 4, 1994).

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