Total SA and Novealis Holdings LLC plan to more than double capacity at the natural gas-fueled Bayport Polymers LLC complex near Houston after agreeing to move forward on a 625,000 ton/year polyethylene unit.

The positive final investment decision was approved by the 50-50 joint venture (JV) between France’s Total and Novealis, which is a JV between Austria’s Borealis AG and Calgary’s Nova Chemicals Inc.

Once completed, the complex in southeast Harris County would have 1.1 million metric tons/year (mmty) of capacity.

“The power of this partnership between Total, Borealis and Nova Chemicals will enable us to become one of the largest players in the North American polyethylene market,” said Bayport Polymers President Diane Chamberlain. “The Borstar technology, which will be used for the first time in North America, will allow us to better serve our customers with an increased range of high-value-added products.”

The Bayport JV has a 1 mmty steam cracker in Port Arthur southeast of Houston that is underway to process ethane that would supply the polyethylene units. The contract for the engineering, procurement and construction has been awarded to McDermott and is expected to employ 1,750 staff during peak activity.

Total’s Bernard Pinatel, president of refining and chemicals, said the project “is in line with our strategy to develop petrochemicals at our major integrated complexes and leverage competitively priced feedstocks. It’s another step to strengthen our position in the United States, where we have more than 5,000 employees and where we operate one of our six world’s largest integrated platforms in Port Arthur.”

Total is a big gas player in the United States. Active in U.S. exploration and production since 1957, it works in the onshore and the Gulf of Mexico, both U.S. waters and offshore Mexico. It owns and operates properties in the gassy Barnett Shale and is a 25% participant in a Utica Shale field.

In late 2016 Total took a 23% stake in Tellurian Investments Inc., which has proposed the Driftwood LNG terminal proposed in Louisiana. In addition, Total owns 25% of Clean Energy Fuels Corp., a pioneer in advancing the North American natural gas vehicle fueling network.

“This final investment decision is a major milestone in the development of this exciting partnership, and a significant step in the global market presence of our unique Borstar technology,” said Borealis CEO Alfred Stern.

Added Nova Chemicals CEO Todd Karran, “Partnering with Total and Borealis and bringing Borstar technology to North America will allow us to better serve our customers throughout the Americas by delivering a broader slate of products that help make everyday life healthier, easier and safer.”