SEOUL, May 10 (Reuters) - Lotte Chemical Corp said on Friday that its U.S. ethane cracker in Louisiana is expected to commence commercial operations within May.
With the commencement of the plant, the South Korean company hopes to boost its cost competitiveness by diversifying away from mainly naphtha as a feedstock to make ethylene, a key ingredient for petrochemical products, it said in a statement.
Lotte Chemical's U.S. ethane cracker is a joint venture with Axiall Corp, which is now merged with Westlake Corp. Lotte owns an 88 percent in the plant, while Westlake Corp holds the remainder.
South Korean petrochemicals makers including Lotte Chemical, typically use naphtha derived from crude oil as a feedstock to make ethylene. Ethane crackers use ethane gas as a feedstock and can take advantage of cheap U.S. shale gas.
Lotte's ethane cracker in the United States can produce 1 million tonnes of ethylene a year, taking Lotte Chemical's global ethylene output capacity to 4.5 million tonnes, the statement added.
At home, Lotte Chemical runs two naphtha crackers which have a combined ethylene production capacity of 2.2 million tonnes per year. (Reporting By Jane Chung; Editing by Shreejay Sinha)