I was completely wrong about who would build a new cracker in the U.S. It wasn’t a “foreign” firm at all. Chevron Phillips–based in the Woodlands, Texas–announced it is studying a new ethane cracker at one of its Gulf Coast facilities. The company already makes ethylene at Sweeny, Port Arthur, and Cedar Bayou, Texas. It also makes styrene in Louisiana and has an aromatics plant in Mississippi.
Let me illustrate how surprised I was by this announcement. While sitting in a ballroom at the Hilton last week waiting for the conference to begin, I actually made a list of every ethylene maker in North America and the pro’s and con’s of each building a cracker. (I was preparing a post on this blog, though I do that kind of thing for fun as well) Chevron Phillips was dismissed out of hand (I’m using the passive voice to make this less embarrassing to me.) My reasoning was that they just restarted an idle unit in Sweeny. (I’m really glad I didn’t publish that list.) Also, I seemed to have overlooked CP Chem’s announcement last year that it was building a 200 ktpa hexene plant in Cedar Bayou.
I suppose there might be room for another cracker, especially somewhere in the Northeast, that would sip ethane from the Marcellus shale. And of course, there will likely be some incremental expansions and other investments related to ethylene. (Silver lining.)
Scary Publishing News:
Modern Plastics’ will publish its last print edition in April. I got an e-mail today from its publisher about folding everything into its website:
As part of the restructuring, the last print editions of Injection Molding Magazine and Modern Plastics Worldwide will be published in April. Injection Molding and Modern Plastics Worldwide will continue to deliver content via branded e-newsletters and the PlasticsToday.com website.
Modern Plastics isn’t just some trade paper. It is an institution in the plastics industry. The magazine has 33,078 audited print subscribers and 10,462 qualified digital subscribers. The current print issue has 40 pages. This is down from a few years ago, which were perfect bound and 60+ pages. There seems to still be a decent amount of paying advertisers. I really do hope that the transition works out well. It looks like the odds are in its favor.
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