In an effort to expand its production of olefins, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LP plans to build a massive 1-hexene plant at its Cedar Bayou Chemical Complex in Baytown, TX.

The plant, which would be capable of producing up to 250,000 metric tons per year, would be “the world’s largest on-purpose 1-hexene plant,” according to the Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LLC subsidiary. Construction is targeted to begin in the first half of this year, with start up expected in the first quarter of 2014.

S & B Engineers and Constructors Ltd. will engineer and build the plant utilizing a Chevron Phillips Chemical proprietary technology that produces comonomer grade 1-hexene from ethylene with exceptional product purity. The commodity is a critical component used in the manufacture of polyethylene.

The project “represents a significant milestone for our business and it supports our growth strategy as a leader in the production of normal alpha olefins,” said Mitch Eichelberger, general manager of normal alpha olefins and polyalphaolefins for Chevron Phillips Chemical. “Constructing this project is an important step to ensure we meet the growing demand of our global customer base.”

The announcement comes within days of Chevron Phillips Chemical saying it will expand the natural gas liquids (NGL) fractionator complex at its Sweeny Plant in Old Ocean, TX (see Shale Daily, March 27). That expansion is to begin this month for completion in February 2013. “One of the main drivers for the project is the rapid development of natural gas, crude oil and NGLs from the shale formations in the region,” said Martin Dale, feedstock procurement manager for Chevron Phillips Chemical.

Before the shale boom, Chevron Phillips Chemical was looking overseas for its growth, but its focus has shifted back to the United States, according to executive vice president Mark Lashier (see Shale Daily, March 12).

The Woodlands, TX-based company isn’t alone in its efforts to cash in on the resurgence in the U.S. chemical manufacturing industry. Dow Chemical Co. recently authorized final engineering and lead-time equipment spending for a new, world-scale propylene production facility in Texas, which will take advantage of increasing supplies of U.S. shale gas as a feedstock (see Shale Daily, March 8a).

Denver-based infrastructure and natural gas liquids operator DCP Midstream LLC is also buoyed by the resurgence of U.S.-based chemical companies, according to DCP President Bill Waldheim (see Shale Daily, March 8b). The privately held firm has discussed nearly $4 billion in new infrastructure investments, mostly in the south-central energy center of the United States.