ExxonMobil on Tuesday announced that its new ethane cracker at the Baytown complex is mechanically complete, and project startup is expected during the second quarter of 2018.
The ethane cracker will increase ethylene capacity by 1.5 million tons per year and provide feedstock for new polyethylene lines at the company’s Mont Belvieu plastics plant, the company said.
“With the completion of the project in Baytown, we are on the verge of fully realizing one of ExxonMobil’s most significant U.S. Gulf Coast investments,” said John Verity, president of ExxonMobil Chemical Company. “Our new ethane cracker will allow us to economically meet rapidly growing demand for high-performance polyethylene products around the world while continuing to sustain economic development and create jobs for decades to come.”
According to ExxonMobil, the project has provided more than 10,000 construction jobs and 4,000 related jobs around Houston since construction started in 2014.
The ethane cracker is expected to support 350 new permanent positions, and generate $870 million a year in regional economic activity and $90 million per year in local tax revenues once it becomes operational, the company said.
ExxonMobil project executive Paul Guilfoyle praised the construction workforce, contractors and employees at the Baytown Olefins Plant.
“This project continues to deliver extraordinary benefits to the greater Baytown community including high-paying jobs and the generation of millions of dollars in economic activity in the region,” he said.
The Baytown chemical expansion project is part of ExxonMobil’s “Growing the Gulf” initiative. In addition to the ethane cracker in Baytown, ExxonMobil and Saudi Arabian chemical company SABIC are proposing to build a jointly owned petrochemical complex in San Patricio County that includes a 1.8 million ton-per-year ethane cracker --— the largest capacity built to date, the company said.
“The U.S. chemical industry is rapidly expanding along the Gulf Coast due to abundant supplies of domestically produced natural gas, as demonstrated by the investments ExxonMobil alone is making,” Verity said. “This expansion will not only increase the nation’s existing manufacturing and export capacity, but also further stimulate economic growth and create thousands of full-time jobs.”
Baytown Mayor Stephen DonCarlos called the new ethane cracker a “milestone” in Exxon’s expansion in the city.
“While we experienced challenges due to the influx of construction workers and heavy haul movements of equipment, I think the extensive planning and great cooperation between ExxonMobil and City staff minimized the impacts on our citizens. We look forward to continued cooperation with ExxonMobil on future projects,” DonCarlos said.