ExxonMobil Corp. on Friday pulled the trigger to fund construction of a polypropylene production unit in Baton Rouge, LA, which would expand natural gas-fed feedstock capacity along the Gulf Coast by up to 450,000 tons/year.

Construction is to begin this year with startup anticipated by 2021.

“Growth in feedstock supply along with the increase in global demand for chemical products continues to drive our strategic investments and expansion along the Gulf Coast,” ExxonMobil Chemical Co. President John Verity said. “We’re well positioned to meet the demand for these high-performance products and investing further in Baton Rouge enhances our facility’s competitiveness.”

The supermajor last year began engineering work on the project, which would use abundant Lower 48 gas to meet growing demand for advanced polypropylene products used in automotive, appliance and packaging applications.

An engineering, procurement and construction contract has been awarded to Baton Rouge-based Turner Industries and Jacobs Engineering. The companies plan to use local workers to design and construct the new facility.

The project is expected to create up to 600 jobs during construction and 65 permanent jobs once completed.

The new project adds to ExxonMobil’s previously announced plans to invest $20 billion to build and expand manufacturing facilities in the Gulf Coast region as part of its Growing the Gulf initiative, which in total could create more than 45,000 jobs across the region.

Growing the Gulf projects include a state-of-the-art aviation lubricants blending, packaging and distribution facility in the Baton Rouge area, as well as refining and chemical expansions at ExxonMobil’s Beaumont and Baytown facilities east of Houston.

Last year ExxonMobil and Saudi Basic Industries Corp., i.e. SABIC, also created a joint venture to advance the Gulf Coast Growth Ventures project, a 1.8 million metric ton/year ethane cracker planned for San Patricio County near Corpus Christi.

ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum in early February also pulled the trigger to proceed with the development of the Golden Pass liquefied natural gas export project in Sabine Pass, TX.

ExxonMobil’s integrated operations in Baton Rouge include a 502,000 b/d refinery, as well as chemical, lubricants and polyethylene plants. The Irving, TX-based producer has more than 2,500 employees in the Baton Rouge area and said its operations account for 10% of the jobs in the region.