The Dow Chemical Co. said it will start construction Monday on its world-scale ethylene production facility at its site in Freeport, TX. The plant is expected to come online during the first half of 2017.

"This world-scale ethylene facility is a foundational element in Dow's strategy to utilize low-cost and advantaged shale gas feedstocks to enable growth in key value-add market-driven businesses," said CEO Andrew N. Liveris. "...Dow's U.S. Gulf Coast investments serve as an integral component of our global growth strategy..."

With a nameplate capacity of 1,500 kilotons per year, the ethylene plant is part of a multibillion dollar investment that also includes plastics and elastomers facilities to support market growth and expansions of Dow's performance plastics business.

"When combined with our on-purpose propylene PDH [propane dehydrogenation] project, which is more than 30% complete, this ethylene production facility takes Dow yet another step closer to realizing the full financial benefit of our Gulf Coast investment effort," said Jim Fitterling, executive vice president for feedstocks, energy and performance plastics. "This investment will connect cost-advantaged raw materials to many of the company's highest-margin downstream businesses -- including performance plastics -- businesses that also consistently deliver a high return on invested capital."

Dow's Freeport facility the company's largest integrated manufacturing site worldwide and said to be the largest chemical complex in North America with more than 4,200 employees and 3,800 contractors on site daily, according to Dow.

Last week, ExxonMobil Chemical Co. said it had begun building an ethane cracker at its Baytown, TX, complex and associated product facilities at Mont Belvieu, TX (see Daily GPIJune 19). This project also is intended to take advantage of Gulf Coast shale gas and natural gas liquids production.

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 GPIJune 9). Last fall, Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. LP (CPChem) received the green light to proceed with the US Gulf Coast Petrochemicals Project, (see Daily GPIOct. 4, 2013). CPChem's two polyethylene facilities each would have an annual capacity of 500,000 metric tons.