ExxonMobil wraps construction on Baytown ethane cracker
ExxonMobil Chemical Co. has reached mechanical completion of its 1.5 million-tonne/year ethane steam cracker at the company’s Baytown, Tex., complex.
With commissioning activities now under way, the new unit is scheduled to begin commercial production during the second quarter, the operator said.
Part of a previously announced multibillion dollar expansion project in the Baytown area, the steam cracker will provide feedstock for two 650,000-tpy high-performance polyethylene lines that began production in fall 2017 at ExxonMobil’s plastics plant in Mont Belvieu, Tex. (OGJ Online, Oct. 18, 2017).
“With the completion of the project in Baytown, we are on the verge of fully realizing one of ExxonMobil’s most significant US Gulf Coast investments,” said John Verity, president of ExxonMobil Chemical.
The new ethane cracker will enable the company 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 Verity.
The Baytown-Mont Belvieu projects are part of ExxonMobil’s 10-year, $20-billion “Growing the Gulf” initiative, which includes 11 major chemical, refining, lubricant, and LNG projects along the Texas and Louisiana coasts to expand the company’s existing manufacturing and export capacity.
Alongside the Baytown ethane cracker, ExxonMobil Chemical and Saudi Arabian Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) also have proposed building a jointly owned petrochemical complex in San Patricio County, Tex., that would include a 1.8 million-tpy ethane cracker which, if completed, would become the largest-capacity ethane cracker built to date (OGJ Online, Apr. 14, 2017).
ExxonMobil’s Growing the Gulf projects come amid massive new supplies of domestically produced US oil and natural gas, which have dramatically reduced energy costs and created new sources of feedstock for US refining and chemical manufacturing, according to the company.
The operator said most of its planned new chemical capacity investment in the US Gulf Coast will be focused on supplying export markets, such as Asia Pacific, with high-demand products, helping to increase existing US manufacturing-export capacity and stimulate economic growth.
Recent changes in the US corporate tax rate also have created an environment for increased future capital investments in these type of projects, which will help further strengthen ExxonMobil’s competitiveness in global markets, the company added.
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