Fed by ample natural gas stocks, Shell Chemical LP has begun producing from its fourth alpha olefins (AO) unit at its Geismar, LA, chemical manufacturing site, bringing total output to more than 1.3 million metric tons/year (mmty).

Start-up began in December for the 425,000 mmty capacity expansion at Geismar. Shell launched the $717 million expansion of the 800-acre site in Ascension Parish in 2015. With the start-up, the Geismar campus is now the largest AO facility in the world.

“Our team delivered this world class expansion project safely, on time and within budget,” said Executive Vice President Graham van’t Hoff, who oversees the global chemicals business. “This is a key growth project for Shell’s global chemicals business. Geismar will continue to play a leading role in providing the materials for products that an increasing number of people need and enjoy.”

The Geismar site is supported with advantaged ethylene feedstock from Shell’s nearby Norco, LA, and Deer Park, TX manufacturing sites, which enable the site to respond to market conditions.

The Norco facility in St. Charles Parish manufactures lower olefins, including ethylene, propylene and butadiene. Deer Park is a joint refinery/chemicals manufacturing site southeast of Houston along the Houston Ship Channel that makes base chemicals including ethylene, propylene, butadiene and butylene.

Alpha olefins are used in many finished products including laundry detergents, motor oils and hand soaps.

The AO expansion project contains around 3,570 metric tons of steel, 18,290 meters of concrete and 85 linear kilometers of pipe. Several pieces of infrastructure were built as part of the expansion, including a water cooling tower, rail loading capabilities and repurposing a previously idled tank farm.