Chemicals firm LyondellBasell has slowed the construction work at the propylene oxide (PO) and tertiary butyl alcohol (TBA) plant being built in the US, with an investment of $2.4bn.

The move, which has been informed to the project engineering and construction contractors, comes amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The ongoing concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic also entailed the company to limit non-essential activities at the project, which is expected to produce 470,000 metric tonnes of PO and one million metric tonnes of TBA annually.

LyondellBasell Intermediates & Derivatives (I&D) executive vice-president Torkel Rhenman said: “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.

“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 LyondellBasell’s PO/TBA project, which is more than 30% complete, features a split-facility design to optimise synergies between two existing LyondellBasell sites.

PO/TBA project scheduled to be commissioned in 2021

Scheduled to be commissioned in 2021, the project is being built at the LyondellBasell Channelview Complex located in Channelview, Texas while an associated ethers unit, which will convert TBA to oxyfuels, is planned to be built at the company’s Bayport Complex in Pasadena, Texas.

The project is expected to create more than 2,200 jobs during the construction phase and 160 permanent positions once commissioned.

Recently, LyondellBasell has signed definitive agreements to form a 50:50 joint venture (JV) with Liaoning Bora Enterprise Group (Bora).

The JV company will operate a 1.1 million metric tonnes/year ethylene cracker and the associated polyolefin derivatives facility which is located in Panjin, China.