A high-performance polyethylene line fueled by Lower 48 liquids has ramped up at ExxonMobil’s plant east of Houston.

The supermajor said Wednesday the expansion at the Beaumont plant increases natural gas liquids (NGL) production capacity by 65%, or 650,000 tons/year, bringing site capacity to nearly 1.7 million tons/year.

“The availability of new supplies of domestically produced natural gas liquids provides us with a significant advantage when expanding polyethylene production to meet worldwide demand growth,” said ExxonMobil Chemical Co. President Karen McKee. “Our unique polyethylene products offer enhanced performance benefits to our customers, including strength and ease of processing, compared with commodity products.”

The expansion builds upon NGL supply advantages created by two performance polyethylene lines, which began production in 2017, at the company’s manufacturing site in Mont Belvieu, TX.

“Together, these multi-billion dollar investments are designed to meet strong global demand growth for polyethylene, particularly high-performance products used for liquid and food packaging, construction liners and agricultural films,” management said.

The project created 2,000 jobs during peak construction and now supports about 40 permanent jobs. Operations associated with the Beaumont expansion are expected to increase regional economic activity by $20 billion in the first 13 years, according to research completed in 2015 by Impact Data Source.

Beaumont’s polyethylene plant expansion is part of the company’s Growing the Gulf initiative launched two years ago, which included plans to build and expand manufacturing facilities along the Gulf Coast to create more than 45,000 jobs.

ExxonMobil’s integrated operations in Beaumont include a 366,000 b/d capacity refinery, as well as chemical, lubricants and polyethylene plants.

Earlier this year an expansion at the Beaumont refinery was sanctioned to increase crude capacity by more than 65%, or 250,000 b/d. The third unit within the facility’s existing footprint is to be supplied using ExxonMobil’s output from West Texas and New Mexico.

The supermajor employs about 2,100 people in the Beaumont area, and its operations account for nearly one in every seven jobs in the region.