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Petrochemical producers push US investment decisions to 2018

Houston — Some petrochemical producers considering major US projects have pushed final decisions on whether to move ahead with them to 2018 from this year, they said.

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Total Petrochemical and PTTGC America had said they expected to make final investment decisions on potential projects by the end of 2017, but now say announcements will come next year.

Total is working with Canada's NOVA Chemicals and Austria's Borealis "to finalize the definitive agreements that would lead to the creation of a new joint venture in early 2018 after relevant regulatory approvals," Total spokeswoman Tricia Fuller said in an email late Thursday.

The French company in March announced plans to build a 1 million mt/year steam cracker at its refining and petrochemical complex in Port Arthur, Texas.

Ethylene from the cracker would feed a 625,000 mt/year polyethylene plant to be operated by NOVA and Borealis about 77 miles west, near the mouth of the Houston Ship Channel and next to Total's existing 400,000 mt/year PE plant.

PTTGC America, the US arm of Thailand's PTT Global Chemical, last week said the company would have a "significant update that will demonstrate momentum" for its proposed petrochemical complex in Belmont County, Ohio, in early 2018, according to a statement on the project's website.

The company already had pushed a FID to late 2017 from last summer to allow itself more time to evaluate engineering designs and the economic feasibility of the project.

In October, PTTGC America signed a memorandum of understanding with JobsOhio, an economic development group in the state, to establish an infrastructure development plan to enhance communities surrounding the project site post-FID.

ExxonMobil and Sabic also could make an FID on a petrochemical complex near Corpus Christi with a 1.8 million mt/year cracker next year as well.

Sabic CEO Yousef al-Benyan told Reuters in November that the FID could come by the end of 2018, after telling the agency last January that the decision could come by the middle of this year.

ExxonMobil has consistently said the FID would come after the companies received the necessary permits, many of which are pending review by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

"At this point, our focus is on completing the permitting process, at which time, we'll be able to make a decision on FID," spokesman Aaron Stryk said in an email.

Earlier in December, ExxonMobil and Sabic signed a lease agreement with the Port of Corpus Christi for a new cargo dock and marine terminal near the project site.

--Kristen Hays,
--Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh,