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TPC Group completes initial phase of crude C4 processing capacity program

By Mary Page Bailey |

TPC Group (Houston; www.tcpgrp.com) announced that it has successfully completed the initial phase of its Crude C4 (CC4) processing system upgrade to further enhance its capabilities and capacities. This milestone is a critical component of the company’s Long Range Plan to ensure TPC Group’s ability to meet its committed and projected processing requirements over the next five years.

In 2017, the company commissioned a cross-functional team to focus on improving critical infrastructure and process chemistry and identifying low-cost debottlenecks. The initial phase of this work, which was completed in the early part of the first quarter of 2019, includes expansion of CC4 railcar unloading capabilities and reinstatement of finished butadiene railcar loading capabilities at the company’s Port Neches, Texas facility, critical infrastructure reliability improvements in the company’s utility systems, and mechanical integrity projects such as piping, heat exchanger reliability and corrosion under insulation programs.

The objective of the process chemistry improvement is to eliminate, or at least minimize, fouling and polymer formation in the butadiene extraction units, which is a common industry problem. The company is very encouraged by the positive early results of these efforts. These enhancements will reduce maintenance downtime and extend intervals between turnarounds. In addition, by the end of the second quarter of 2019, the company will have completed turnarounds on all of its major CC4-butadiene processing units, which positions the company well for long-term, reliable extraction capabilities and onstream time.

“Our current and future suppliers of Crude C4’s depend on us for consistent and reliable offtake for their Crude C4 production. TPC fulfills a critical role in the U.S. olefins industry,” said John Medico, business director of C4 processing for TPC Group. “Of the new crackers coming online in 2019, we have successfully secured a majority of the Crude C4 offtake under long-term contracts that will enable us to grow our finished butadiene sales volumes by approximately 16 percent year over year. This exceptional growth in contractual CC4 volumes on both the supply and product sides of our business demonstrates the confidence our suppliers and customers have in TPC’s capabilities to serve their long-term needs.”

The second phase of the company’s CC4 processing upgrade will target expansion in the 2021 to 2022 timeframe to be ready for the second wave of new ethylene crackers starting up as early as 2022. Engineering work on this phase commenced in the first quarter of 2019. The second phase will ensure the company is prepared to reliably and efficiently handle the supply growth of CC4 volumes from this second wave of new world scale ethylene crackers.

“We are pleased with the results of our focused efforts to drive reliability and infrastructure improvements to enhance the capability of our existing assets,” said Ed Dineen, chairman, president and CEO of TPC Group. “We will continue to drive reliability improvements and cost-effective capacity growth over the next five years. In doing so, I am confident TPC will have the capacity to handle a majority of the Crude C4’s coming online, and that we are best positioned to serve the needs of our suppliers and to serve the growing domestic butadiene needs of our customers.”

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