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BASF Plans U.S. Gulf Coast Methanol-To-Propylene Unit

by Alexander H. Tullo
May 12, 2014 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 92, ISSUE 19

In an effort to leverage shale-based natural gas feedstocks for its chemicals business, BASF is planning to build a methanol-to-propylene plant on the U.S. Gulf Coast. BASF is still reviewing the details of the plans, including the size of the plant, its cost, and its exact location. However, the company promises that the unit will be its “largest single-plant investment to date.” IHS Chemical estimates that the plant will have around 500,000 metric tons of annual capacity when it is built. The methanol-to-propylene route produces propylene from natural gas or coal via a methanol intermediate. The process is becoming popular in China. In the U.S., inexpensive ethane derived from shale has driven ethylene producers to switch feedstocks from oil-based to natural-gas-based. This has reduced by some 40% supplies of propylene, a coproduct of naphtha cracking, of which BASF is a large consumer for acrylic acid, oxo-alcohols, and propylene oxide.

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