Houston: Pandemic Concerns Slow Construction of LyondellBasell Plant
Featured Photo (above): LyondellBasell’s facility in Channelview, Texas, is one of two area company facilities that form the base for a new plant that the company is building. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the company to slow construction there. Image: LyondellBasell
By Edmond Ortiz
Houston (Harris County)–One of the world’s biggest plastics, chemicals and refining companies is slowing down construction of its new Houston plant in order to keep job site workers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
LyondellBasell in late March informed engineering and construction contractors at the site of its propylene oxide (PO) and tertiary butyl alcohol (TBA) plant.
LyondellBasell broke ground on the $2.4 billion project in August 2018, launching the company’s largest capital investment to date.
Company officials said the project is more than 30% complete with work focusing on installation of key equipment and towers.
Even though the state government deemed construction an essential business function during the coronavirus outbreak, LyondellBasell is reducing the amount of non-essential activities to limit human interaction.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented and evolving. Because the PO/TBA site is currently under construction and not producing needed products yet, in the interest of health and safety we believe it is prudent to limit construction activities at this time,” Torkel Rhenman, executive vice president, intermediates and derivatives, said in a news release.
“We remain committed to the completion of this strategic investment incorporating our low-cost, next generation PO/TBA technology. Over the next several weeks, we will be working with our contractors and suppliers to develop a revised project timeline.”
The 140-acre project includes a split-facility design to capitalize on two existing LyondellBasell sites: the company’s Channelview, Texas facility, and an associated 34-acre ethers unit under construction at the company’s Bayport Complex in Pasadena, Texas.
Upon becoming operational, the PO/TBA plant will produce 1 billion pounds (470,000 metric tons) of PO and 2.2 billion pounds (1 million metric tons) of TBA annually. Startup of the plant is still planned for 2021.
Because of the pandemic, developers and contractors have indicated varying levels of delays in their ongoing projects around Texas.
California-based Katerra informed Hays County and San Marcos officials recently that the company is pausing development of its 600,000-plus-square-foot manufacturing and distribution complex because of COVID-19 concerns.
Artist’s rendering of Katerra’s planned manufacturing and distribution facility in San Marcos. Image: Katerra
Katerra, which assembles building components and materials, announced in 2019 it was relocating its planned facility from the San Marcos Air Rail and Truck (SMART) terminal to the Whisper master-planned, mixed-use development.
According to media reports, Houston contractor O’Donnell/Snider Construction informed clients that it is expecting delays in supply deliveries because of disruptions in the supply chain abroad.
Howard Hughes Corp., based in The Woodlands, has stopped some construction projects, according to a recent filing that the company recorded with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
“We cannot presently estimate the significance, extent or duration of the overall operational and financial impact of COVID-19 on our business,” the filing stated.
Edmond Ortiz is a lifelong San Antonian and a 20-plus-year veteran in local journalism, He previously worked full-time at the San Antonio Express-News, and has been freelancing for outlets such as the Rivard Report.