ExxonMobil (Irving, TX) announced that it has begun detailed engineering work on a potential U.S. Gulf Coast project to expand polypropylene manufacturing capacity by up to 450,000 tons a year to meet growing demand for high-performance, lightweight durable plastics. A final decision on the investment, anticipated to be several hundred million dollars, is expected later this year. Facility startup could come as early as 2021.
The new facility will be capable of producing advanced polypropylene products for applications in high-performance automotive, appliance and packaging applications. If it goes ahead, the project would create more than 600 jobs during peak construction and more than 60 permanent jobs when production starts, according to the company.
“ExxonMobil is well positioned to take advantage of the growing global demand for higher-value products, in both North America and the high-growth Asia Pacific region,” said John Verity, President of ExxonMobil Chemical Co., in a prepared statement. “Abundant supplies of domestically produced oil and natural gas have reduced energy costs and created new sources of feedstock for U.S. chemical manufacturing. Most of our planned investment in the Gulf Coast region is focused on supplying emerging markets like Asia with high-demand products, which ultimately will spur new economic growth locally.”
These advanced polypropylene materials are key to reducing vehicle weight, which helps improve fuel efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. Modern plastics and polymer composites, which can replace steel in many applications, typically comprise about 50% of a new car’s volume but only 10% of its weight, said ExxonMobil.
“Polypropylene delivers performance and sustainability benefits to produce a wide variety of consumer products,” said Cindy Shulman, ExxonMobil’s Vice President of Plastics and Resins. “It’s a versatile material providing high impact resistance and high stiffness to lightweight applications. It is safe, can be recycled and requires less energy to produce when compared with other plastics.”
This investment is one of 13 new facilities planned to grow ExxonMobil’s chemical manufacturing capacity in North America and Asia Pacific by about 40%. These investments, including two world-class steam crackers in the United States, will enable the company to meet increasing demand in Asia and other growing markets.