Lotte Chemical’s Westlake cracker starts operations this month


Lotte Chemical’s ethylene cracker complex in Westlake will start commercial operations this month, with hopes of expanding its global presence and diversifying its ingredients for petrochemical products.

The $3.1 billion Lake Charles Complex—located at the junction of Interstates 10 and 210 in Lake Charles—is a joint venture with Axiall Corp., which the Westlake Chemical Corp. acquired in 2016. Lotte owns 88% of the plant, while Westlake holds the remainder.

“We will take on a crucial role for the future of our company and South Korea’s petrochemical industry, by taking pride in the fact that we are the first Korean petrochemical firm to build and operate the first world-class petrochemical facility in the US,” Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin said at the plant’s dedication ceremony last week.

Attending the ceremony were Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon and other high-ranking Lotte officials. They were joined by Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, Westlake Chemical CEO Albert Chao and U.S. Ambassador Harry Harris.

The construction of the plant was completed late last year and Lotte has already test-run production, the firm said in a statement. The company says the plant can produce 1 million tons of ethylene a year, boosting its annual global ethylene output capacity to 4.5 million tons.

It plans to use locally produced shale gas to produce ethylene, one of the key ingredients it uses to make petrochemical products. Lotte’s goal is to replace naphtha, which is derived from crude oil and used to make ethylene.

Lotte Chemical signed deals to build the plant in 2014 and launched construction the same year.