ExxonMobil Corp. plans to build factories that produce ethylene and polyethylene (PE) in Texas in a move that could "significantly" increase the exports of plastics in North America.
An ExxonMobil spokesperson told PlasticsToday required governmental reviews and approvals are expected to take about a year. The permits were filed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
This multi-billion dollar project includes building a new ethane steam cracker at Baytown, TX and two new high performance PE lines at the company's Mont Belvieu, TX plastics plant. The cracker would have a capacity of up to 1.5 million tons of ethylene, which will provide ethylene feedstock to the new PE units, each with a capacity of about 650,000 tons per year.
"The proposed investment reflects ExxonMobil's continued confidence in the natural gas-driven revitalization of the U.S. chemical industry," the spokesperson said. "Domestic energy production continues to lift the U.S. economy and grow jobs at a pace faster than the national average."
ExxonMobil plans to start construction next March, with the start-up slated for 2016. The expansion should create 10,000 construction jobs and about 350 permanent jobs would be added to the company's workforce of 6,500 in the Baytown area. The proposed project would also have a multiplier effect and create an additional 3,700 jobs in the local community, the spokesperson said.
ExxonMobil estimates that the proposed expansion project would increase regional economic activity by roughly $870 million per year and generate more than $90 million per year of additional tax revenues for local communities.
"The natural gas revolution in the United States, driven by industry innovation, is enabling U.S. chemical manufacturers like ExxonMobil to invest in America, create thousands of U.S. jobs, and increase sales to domestic and global markets," the spokesperson said. "We believe the North American natural gas resource is abundant and can support both domestic energy needs as well as exports to the global market."
At NPE2012, ExxonMobil Chemical commented on the influence of shale gas on the North American petrochemical market.