ExxonMobil weighs USGC polypropylene expansion

ExxonMobil Corp. has started detailed engineering work on a proposed project along the US Gulf Coast that would expand polypropylene manufacturing capacity by as much as 450,000 tonnes/year to meet growing demand for high-performance, lightweight durable plastics.

ExxonMobil Corp. has started detailed engineering work on a proposed project along the US Gulf Coast that would expand polypropylene (PP) manufacturing capacity by as much as 450,000 tonnes/year to meet growing demand for high-performance, lightweight durable plastics.

While ExxonMobil did not disclose a specific location for siting of the possible expansion, the company said it expects to take final investment decision—which would require several hundred million dollars—later this year.

If approved, the PP production unit could startup as early as 2021, the operator said.

The possible expansion comes amid abundant supplies of US-produced oil and natural gas, which have reduced energy costs and created new sources of feedstock for the nation’s chemical manufacturing, according to John Verity, president of ExxonMobil Chemical Co.

“Most of our planned investment in the [US] Gulf Coast region is focused on supplying emerging markets like Asia [Pacific] with high-demand products, which ultimately will spur new economic growth locally,” Verity said.

The proposed PP expansion follows ExxonMobil Chemical’s completion of its 1.5 million-tpy ethane steam cracker at the company’s Baytown, Tex., complex, which will provide feedstock for two 650,000-tpy high-performance polyethylene lines that began production in fall 2017 at the company’s plastics plant in Mont Belvieu, Tex. (OGJ Online, Feb. 6, 2018; Oct. 18, 2017).

The company said the possible PP investment is one of 13 new facilities intended to help expand ExxonMobil’s chemical manufacturing capacity in North America and Asia Pacific by about 40%.

Contact Robert Brelsford at rbrelsford@ogjonline.com.

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