Shell Ponders More LAO


Shell Chemical LP may expand its Geismar, La., petrochemical facility by adding an additional linear alpha olefin unit to meet growing global demand for products such as synthetic lubricants and lubricant additives.

The proposed expansion still has several key milestones to achieve prior to Shell reaching a final investment decision. Shell did not disclose the cost in its recent announcement. It would be the fourth LAO unit at the Geismar plant.

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The potential new LAO unit’s planned capacity is 350,000 tons per year, a Shell spokesperson told Lube Report. According to Shell Chemicals web site, the Geismar facility now has an overall capacity of 920,000 metric tons per year, including production of LAOs, internal olefins, linear paraffins and iso-paraffins.

The project under consideration would use proprietary Shell Higher Olefins Process technology that the company has used at other sites, including at Geismar and the Stanlow facility in the United Kingdom.The technology allows creation of products used in both consumer and industrial applications. If the project proceeds, Shell said the new unit would take ethylene feed stock from other Shell Gulf Coast facilities.

LAOs are the main building block for poly alpha olefins. Common end uses of LAOs include motor oils, drilling fluids, house hold plastics from polyethylene and laundry detergents. The production is targeted for both domestic and global consumption, Shell said.

Shell is positioning itself now for a strong chemicals future that will help us meet the needs of our customers, particularly in North America and Asia, said Rutger Beelaerts, Shell Chemical general manager of higher olefins, alcohols and ethoxylates. We intend to maintain our global leadership position by investing and taking further advantage of one of our existing assets to stay competitive.

The Geismar plant is located on the east bank of the Mississippi River, 20 miles downriver from Baton Rouge, La.

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