SEOUL—Lotte Chemical Corp. said on May 10 that its U.S. ethane cracker in Louisiana is expected to commence commercial operations within May.
With the commencement of the plant, the South Korean company hopes to boost its cost competitiveness by diversifying away from mainly naphtha as a feedstock to make ethylene, a key ingredient for petrochemical products, it said in a statement.
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Lotte Chemical’s U.S. ethane cracker is a joint venture with Axiall Corp., which is now merged with Westlake Corp. (NYSE: WLK) Lotte owns an 88% share in the plant, while Westlake Corp. holds the remainder.
South Korean petrochemicals makers including Lotte Chemical, typically use naphtha derived from crude oil as a feedstock to make ethylene. Ethane crackers use ethane gas as a feedstock and can take advantage of cheap U.S. shale gas.
Lotte’s ethane cracker in the United States can produce 1 million tonnes of ethylene a year, taking Lotte Chemical’s global ethylene output capacity to 4.5 million tonnes, the statement added.
At home, Lotte Chemical runs two naphtha crackers which have a combined ethylene production capacity of 2.2 million tonnes per year.
Last month the companies announced they would build a petrochemical plant north of Doha in Ras Laffan Industrial City that will come on line by 2025 and tap Qatar's North Field for natural gas feedstock.
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