LyondellBasell delays Corpus Christi cracker restart; Construction of Waggaman ammonia plant complete

Petrochemicals news you need to know

Restart of LyondellBasell Corpus Christi cracker delayed

LyondellBasell has delayed the restart of its steam cracker in Corpus Christi, Texas, until late October or early November, according to a report by IHS Chemical.

The company shut down the cracker in April for a planned turnaround and a 360,000 ton-per-year expansion to bring ethylene capacity to 1.13 mtpa. At the time, Chairman and CEO Bob Patel said completion was planned for the third quarter.

Restart of the cracker unit has already been delayed multiple times, IHS noted in its report. It said LyondellBasell had been expected to introduce feedstock to the unit during the first week of October, with on-spec production by the middle of the same month, but that new information indicates feedstock will not be introduced until the last week of October.

Construction of Waggaman ammonia plant complete

Construction of Dyno Nobel’s 800,000 mtpa ammonia plant in Waggaman, Louisiana, was completed during the third quarter, and the plant is now at an advanced stage of commissioning, according to its Australian-listed parent company Incitec Pivot.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards was joined by Incitec Chairman Paul Brasher and Cornerstone Chemical CEO Greg Zoglio at a dedication ceremony at Cornerstone’s 800-acre Fortier Manufacturing Complex on the west bank of the Mississippi River, where the new ammonia plant is situated.

The ammonia project remains within the original budget of $850 million, according to Incitec. Cornerstone has invested $175 million in upgrades and infrastructure at the site.

Construction of the ammonia plant began in August 2013, and ammonia production has begun at the facility. Construction employment peaked at 1,200, according to Dyno Nobel. The number of direct jobs created by the project is 65 – 16 of those employed by Dyno Nobel and 49 by Cornerstone Chemical.

Louisiana Economic Development, the office responsible for strengthening the state’s business environment, has estimated the project will create a further 477 new indirect jobs. Salaries for the new direct jobs will average more than $55,700 per year plus benefits, and the project will retain 450 existing jobs at the Cornerstone site, it said.

Marathon sues BP over issues with refinery bought in 2013

A Marathon Petroleum unit is seeking damages for an undisclosed amount from two BP subsidiaries which it accuses of failing to complete inspections, repairs and upgrades at a Texas City refinery sold by BP to Marathon in February 2013 for $2.4 billion.

In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Galveston, Marathon alleges that, upon taking control of the refinery and terminals, it discovered that BP had left them “not in compliance” with environmental laws. Marathon further claims that in multiple instances, “defendants had commenced programs to correct the non-compliant items but chose not to complete the work prior to selling the refinery to Marathon Petroleum.”

In an emailed response quoted by several news agencies, Geoff Morrell, BPs senior vice president of U.S. Communications and External Affairs, accused Marathon of attempting to renegotiate the terms of the refinery purchase. Morrell said the lawsuit came “immediately” following a mediation session between BP and Marathon. He said BP spent billions of dollars on substantial upgrades to the refinery before the sale, and that Marathon was given “virtually unrestricted access to documents and equipment at the refinery”.

But according to the lawsuit, as reported by the Houston Business Journal, Marathon alleges that BP failed to maintain and provide a substantial portion of the necessary safety documentation for more than 3,000 pressure vessels at the refinery. The allegations also include: electrical components not meeting required design and installation standards; insufficient secondary means of containment for bulk storage containers; inadequate continuous emission monitoring systems; non-compliance related to corrosion-protection efforts; improper design of certain sample stations; and non-compliance of startup vents at the refinery’s sulfur recovery unit. It alleges that it also discovered issues related to on-site septic systems at terminals in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Nashville, Tennessee that it acquired from BP as part of the 2013 deal.