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Westlake to take down Calvert City olefins unit for turnaround, expansion at end-1Q

HOUSTON, February 21, 2017 (PCW) – Westlake Chemical on Tuesday said it would take down its 450 million lbs/yr Calvert City olefins unit in Kentucky for a planned turnaround and expansion at the end of the first quarter.

The plant’s capacity would be expanded by 70 million lbs/yr, or 15.6%. It currently consumes about 20,000 b/d of ethane and post-expansion, is expected to consume an additional 3,000 b/d of ethane.

Westlake also said its joint-venture ethane cracker at Lake Charles with Lotte Chemical is on track for mechanical completion by the end of 2018 with start-up expected in the first half of 2019. The 2.2 billion lbs/yr plant is expected to consume some 60,000 b/d of ethane.

The company said it would also be conducting planned turnarounds at its Plaquemine and Geismar vinyls facilities in 1Q with additional maintenance expected in the second half of the year. Westlake said the facilities that would undergo these turnarounds would be named at a later date. The company added that Westlake’s overall operating rates would return to normal in 2018.

Westlake on Tuesday also reported 4Q net income of $98.9 million, down from the $111 million seen in the year-ago period.

The company attributed the decrease to outages at its Lake Charles Petro 1 ethylene and vinyl chlor-alkali facilities, the sale of higher-cost Axiall inventory and integration expenses.

Westlake’s olefins segment reported 4Q operating income of $149.5 million, up $10.8 million from 4Q 2015. This was due to record ethylene production following the 250 million lb expansion of its Lake Charles Petro 1 ethylene unit.

The vinyls group saw 4Q operating income of $37.6 million, down $14 million compared to 4Q 2015. This was due to lost sales, lower production rates, unabsorbed fixed manufacturing costs and other costs associated with a major planned turnaround at its Lake Charles vinyls operations and the impact of selling higher cost Axiall inventory at fair value following the acquisition.  -- Samantha Hartke

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