Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. LP has introduced feedstock and begun operations of its newest ethane cracker east of Houston at the Cedar Bayou facility in Baytown.

At peak production, the unit is designed to produce 1.5 million metric tons/year, or 3.3 billion pounds/year, making it one of the largest crackers in the world.

The cracker would work in conjunction with Chevron Phillips’ two polyethylene units that started up last fall in nearby Old Ocean, TX. Together, the cracker and polyethylene units form the bulk of the company’s U.S. Gulf Coast Petrochemicals Project (USGCPP) announced in 2011.

“Construction of these world-scale assets has been ongoing since 2014 and today, we are entering a new era of growth,” said CEO Mark Lashier. “With global demand for ethylene and polyethylene poised for sustained long-term growth, the USGCPP will allow Chevron Phillips Chemical to deliver high-quality products to our customers across the country and around the globe.”

Ethylene produced by the Cedar Bayou cracker would be used to meet the needs of the company’s derivative units, including the polyethylene units at Old Ocean, which are capable of producing products that include metallocene linear low-density polyethylene to advanced dual loop bimodal polyethylene resins.

In addition, the ethylene would feed the company’s AlphaPlus normal alpha olefins plants.

“Born from the shale revolution that is providing low-cost feedstock, the U.S. Gulf Coast Petrochemicals Project is the most transformational project in the history of our company,” Lashier said. “Our company and our growing employee base, the communities we call home, and the entire Gulf Coast region’s economy will benefit for decades to come as our project comes to life.”

At peak construction, the USGCPP employed about 10,000 construction workers. Combined, it has generated 400 additional permanent jobs, according to Chevron Phillips.