US chemicals firm ExxonMobil has started up its new 1.5 million tonnes/year ethane cracker at the company’s integrated Baytown chemical and refining complex.
The new cracker, part of ExxonMobil’s Growing the Gulf initiative, will provide ethylene feedstock to new performance PE lines at the company’s Mont Belvieu plastics plant, which began production in the fall of 2017. The Mont Belvieu plant is one of the largest PE plants in the world, with manufacturing capacity of about 1.3 million tonnes/year.
“Our new ethane cracker will help us meet the growing global demand for high performance plastic products that deliver key sustainability benefits such as lighter packaging weight, lower energy consumption and reduced emissions, further enhancing our competitiveness worldwide,” said John Verity, president of ExxonMobil Chemical Company. “The abundance of domestically produced oil and natural gas has reduced energy costs and created new sources of feedstock for US Gulf refining and chemical manufacturing while creating jobs and expanding economic activity in the area.”
Together, the Baytown ethane cracker and Mont Belvieu plant represent ExxonMobil’s largest chemical investment in the US to date. Operations associated with the Baytown and Mont Belvieu projects are expected to increase regional economic activity by roughly US$870 million per year and generate more than US$90 million per year in local tax revenues. The two projects have created more than 10,000 construction jobs, 4,000 jobs in nearby communities and 350 permanent positions.
ExxonMobil is strategically investing in new refining and chemical-manufacturing projects in the US Gulf Coast region to expand its manufacturing and export capacity. The company’s more than US$20 billion Growing the Gulf expansion program consists of major chemical, refining, lubricant and liquefied natural gas projects at proposed new and existing facilities along the Texas and Louisiana coasts. Investments began in 2013 and are expected to continue through at least 2022.
With the increase in chemical manufacturing and the industry’s need for more skilled workers, ExxonMobil has contributed more than US$2 million over the last five years to the Community College Petrochemical Initiative, a training program offered by nine Houston-area community colleges to provide technical skills to high school graduates, returning military veterans and others.