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LyondellBasell is betting millions of dollars that new technology will give it an edge in the burgeoning market for polyethylene, the ubiquitous plastic that has fueled a construction and export boom along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The Houston petrochemicals manufacturer has built a substantial portion of its $725 million plant in La Porte, a cutting-edge facility with technology designed to produce high-density polyethylene that’s stronger and more durable than its standard commodity counterpart. The plant is expected to begin operations next year to meet growing demand in emerging overseas markets.

Jim Sheehan, a petrochemicals analyst with SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, said the technology improves processing efficiency and the durability of the finished product. The higher quality of the plastic means LyondellBasell can charge premium prices, he added, giving it some degree of insulation from fluctuations in polyethylene prices.

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