The FINANCIAL -- ExxonMobil announced on February 6 that a new 1.5 million ton-per-year ethane cracker at its Baytown, Texas complex is mechanically complete with commissioning progressing well. Project startup is expected during the second quarter of 2018.
The new ethane cracker, part of ExxonMobil’s multi-billion dollar Baytown chemical expansion project, will provide ethylene feedstock to the new performance polyethylene lines in Mont Belvieu, which began production in the fall of 2017.
“With the completion of the project in Baytown, we are on the verge of fully realizing one of ExxonMobil’s most significant U.S. Gulf Coast investments,” said John Verity, president of ExxonMobil Chemical Company. “Our new ethane cracker will allow us to economically meet rapidly growing demand for high-performance polyethylene products around the world while continuing to sustain economic development and create jobs for decades to come.”
The project has created more than 10,000 construction jobs and 4,000 related jobs in nearby Houston communities since construction began in 2014. Once operational, it is expected to support 350 new permanent positions at the Baytown complex, $870 million a year in regional economic activity and $90 million per year in local tax revenues, according to ExxonMobil.
The Baytown chemical expansion project is a key component of ExxonMobil’s previously announced Growing the Gulf initiative. In addition to the ethane cracker in Baytown, ExxonMobil and SABIC are proposing to build a jointly owned petrochemical complex in San Patricio County, Texas, that would include a 1.8 million ton-per-year ethane cracker – the largest capacity of any ethane cracker built to date.
Massive new supplies of oil and natural gas have dramatically reduced energy costs and created new sources of feedstock for U.S. refining and chemical manufacturing. Most of ExxonMobil’s planned new chemical capacity investment in the Gulf region is focused on supplying export markets such as Asia with high-demand products, which will contribute to strengthening the United States’ balance of trade. Recent changes in the U.S. corporate tax rate also create an environment for increased future capital investments in projects such as these, and will further enhance the company’s competitiveness in global markets.
“The U.S. chemical industry is rapidly expanding along the Gulf Coast due to abundant supplies of domestically produced natural gas, as demonstrated by the investments ExxonMobil alone is making,” Verity said. “This expansion will not only increase the nation’s existing manufacturing and export capacity, but also further stimulate economic growth and create thousands of full-time jobs.”
To support the industry’s need for skilled workers as part of this growth, ExxonMobil has contributed $2 million over the last five years to the Community College Petrochemical Initiative, a training program offered by nine Houston-area community colleges to provide technical skills to high school graduates, returning military veterans and others.