Dow, DuPont reportedly close to merger announcement, have a combined seven locations in Louisiana _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- The entrance to the Dow Chemical plant on LA1 in Addis, photographed Wednesday, December 9, 2015.

Dow is retrofitting equipment at its Plaquemine plant in a $119 million project to expand its production of propylene by 100,000 metric tons annually to meet growing demand.

The company expects to create eight jobs. Dow has 1,263 jobs at its Plaquemine facility. About 200 construction jobs are anticipated for the project, with production expected to begin by the end of 2021. The company expects to use the Industrial Tax Exemption Program for the project. 

Propylene is commonly used in the manufacture of resins, fibers and elastomers. The company said the retrofit to one of its mixed-feed crackers will enable it to meet growing demand for its businesses serving consumer, infrastructure and packaging markets. 

Dow Chemical previously expanded the ethylene capacity of this cracker plant in 2016 and added 225,000 metric tons of capacity. The project added the ability to crack ethane, while maintaining the flexibility to crack propane, butane and naphtha. Cracking is a thermal process in which hydrocarbons are broken down into smaller molecules that are used to manufacture more useful chemicals.

Dow is using proprietary technology for its retrofit, which also enables the company to save 25% on capital costs and lowers energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions by 20% as well.

Dow said it and other U.S. cracker operators are consuming more ethane, resulting in a reduction of coproduct production, including propylene. The reduction in propylene has created a supply/demand gap in the U.S.

“Retrofitting our Plaquemine cracker will enhance asset utilization and leverage the U.S. shale gas advantage to meet growing customer demand for Dow’s differentiated polyolefins products,” said Keith Cleason, vice president of Dow’s olefins, aromatics and alternatives business. 

Dow also noted that PetroLogistics II LLC plans to build a new propylene plant along the Gulf Coast and is licensing Dow Chemical’s technology. The Houston company has said it is considering two potential sites in undisclosed locations and has declined to comment about the potential site. PetroLogistics expects to use Dow's proprietary fluidized catalytic dehydrogenation process for a 500,000-metric ton-per-year propane dehydrogenation facility, which produces propylene.

McDermott International Inc. reported Aug. 12 that it was been awarded a "sizeable" contract by PetroLogistics ll LLC for front-end engineering design for the U.S. Gulf Coast facility.

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Email Kristen Mosbrucker at kmosbrucker@theadvocate.com.