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LyondellBasell Industries is embarking on projects at its Corpus Christi, Texas, plant to take advantage of natural gas prices that it expects will be cheap relative to petroleum. The company’s Equistar unit will convert the feedstock slate used at the plant from petroleum-based liquids to natural gas liquids. Natural gas prices in the U.S. are low relative to oil as a result of sluggish demand because of the slow economy and abundant new domestic resources developed in recent years. This has given feedstocks such as natural-gas-derived ethane and propane an edge over petroleum raw materials such as naphtha. LyondellBasell says the project at the facility, which has 1.7 billion lb per year of ethylene capacity, will be completed early next year. As part of the project, the company will also close two units that process coproducts made from the old petroleum-based streams at the plant: a butadiene extraction unit and a hydrodealkylation unit, which converts toluene to benzene.
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