ExxonMobil Chemical starts construction of US ethane cracking project

ExxonMobil Chemical has started construction of a multi-billion dollar ethane cracker at its complex in Baytown, Texas, the company announced on Thursday.

ExxonMobil has also begin building associated premium product facilities in nearby Mont Belvieu, it said.

The steam cracker will have a capacity of up to 1.5 million tpy and provide ethylene feedstock for downstream chemical processing, including processing at two new 650,000 tpy high performance polyethylene (PE) lines at the company’s Mont Belvieu plastics plant.

“The project is made possible in large part by abundant, affordable supplies of US natural gas for energy and chemical feedstock,” said Steve Pryor, president of ExxonMobil Chemical. "The chemical industry and other industrial sectors account for nearly 30% of US natural gas demand. Shale development has provided US chemical producers a double benefit as an energy source and as a key raw material to make plastics and other essential products, creating jobs and economic activity across the value chain.”

The project will employ about 10,000 construction workers, create 4,000 related jobs in nearby Houston communities and add 350 permanent positions at the Baytown complex. It is expected to increase regional economic activity by roughly $870 million per year and generate more than $90 million per year in additional tax revenues for local communities.

Contracts have been awarded for construction, which will begin immediately. Work was awarded to Linde Engineering and Bechtel to build olefins recovery units at the ExxonMobil plant in Baytown. Meanwhile, Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co. and Huertey Petrochem will construct the new olefins furnaces. 

At the Mont Belvieu plastics plant, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will construct two 650,000 tpy high-performance polyethylene lines, and Jacobs Engineering will oversee enabling works and interconnections at both locations. 

Dashiell Corp. and Wood Group Mustang will provide specialty contracting services.

ExxonMobil estimates 2017 as the start date for its new production units.

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