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ExxonMobil Chemical Begins Work on New Ethane Cracker

ExxonMobil Chemical Co. has begun construction of an ethane cracker at its Baytown, TX, complex as well as associated product facilities at Mont Belvieu, TX.

The steam cracker will have a capacity of up to 1.5 million tons per year and provide ethylene feedstock for downstream chemical processing, including processing at two new 650,000 ton-per-year high-performance polyethylene lines at the company's Mont Belvieu plastics plant.

"The project is made possible in large part by abundant, affordable supplies of U.S. natural gas for energy and chemical feedstock," said Steve Pryor, president of ExxonMobil Chemical. "The chemical industry and other industrial sectors account for nearly 30% of U.S. natural gas demand. Shale development has provided U.S. chemical producers a double benefit as an energy source and as a key raw material to make plastics and other essential products, creating jobs and economic activity across the value chain."

Filings for the project were made starting two years ago (see Shale Daily, June 4, 2012).

Recently, Sasol Ltd. and Ineos Europe AG reached a final investment decision to build a high-density polyethylene plant in the La Porte, TX petrochemical complex southeast of Houston (see Daily GPI, June 9). Last fall, Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. LP (CPChem) received the green light to proceed with the US Gulf Coast Petrochemicals Project, (see Daily GPI, Oct. 4, 2013). CPChem's two polyethylene facilities each would have an annual capacity of 500,000 metric tons.

Construction contracts for the ExxonMobil Chemical project have been awarded to Linde Engineering North America Inc. and Bechtel Oil, Gas, and Chemicals Inc. to build olefins recovery units at the ExxonMobil Baytown Olefins Plant. Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co Ltd. and Huertey Petrochem SA will construct the olefins furnaces. At the Mont Belvieu Plastics Plant, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will construct two 650,000 ton-per-year high-performance polyethylene lines. Jacobs Engineering Ltd. will oversee enabling works and interconnections at both locations. Dashiell Corp. and Wood Group Mustang will provide specialty contracting services.

The project will employ about 10,000 construction workers, create 4,000 related jobs in nearby Houston communities and add 350 permanent positions at the Baytown complex. It is expected to increase regional economic activity by roughly $870 million per year and generate more than $90 million per year in additional tax revenues for local communities, according to ExxonMobil Chemical.

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