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Formosa suspends glycols plant construction in Texas


Timeline to resume construction under review

10 employees, seven contractors at site test positive for coronavirus

  • Author
  • Kristen Hays
  • Editor
  • Keiron Greenhalgh
  • Commodity
  • Petrochemicals
  • Topic
  • Coronavirus and Commodities

Construction on Nan Ya Plastics' 800,000 mt/year ethylene glycol plant in Texas has been suspended, and the company does not have a timeline to resume the work amid coronavirus pandemic uncertainty, a spokesman confirmed Tuesday.

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"We are currently evaluating the schedule to resume construction on the new EG plant," Formosa Plastics USA spokesman Fred Neske said in an email. "A timeline is not yet available."

The new plant had been expected to come online in the third quarter of this year. Construction was halted in March.

Other companies that have suspended or slowed construction on large projects amid the pandemic include Shell at its new petrochemical complex in southwest Pennsylvania, NOVA Chemicals' new polyethylene plant and an ethylene expansion in Ontario and LyondellBasell's new propylene oxide/tertiary butyl alcohol facility near Houston.

The new glycols plant at Formosa's Point Comfort, Texas, complex will be owned by Nan Ya Plastics, a division of Formosa Plastics Group in Taiwan. Formosa Plastics Group also is Formosa Plastics USA's parent.

Nan Ya owns the complex's existing 370,000 mt/year glycols unit.

Neske also confirmed that 10 employees and seven contractors at the complex have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The infections are being addressed through testing, tracing and isolation, he said, and the contractors are following their own company protocols, including isolation.

The employees who tested positive worked at the same unit, which Neske declined to identify. He said production rates have not been reduced, nor have shifts been eliminated, and the company has been able to adjust to staffing issues with existing personnel.

A source familiar with company operations said the affected employees were affiliated with a cracker at the complex, and colleagues they may have been in contact with were also self-isolating. However, the company's ongoing turnaround at its 680,000 mt/year Olefins 1 unit allowed existing staff to cover shifts of isolating employees without affecting output, the source said.