ExxonMobil to Expand Beaumont PE
ExxonMobil is adding 650,000 t/y of high performance polyethylene capacity at its Beaumont, Texas, USA, site, where it already produces 1 m t/y. The oil and petrochemicals group said it is expanding output by 65% to meet stronger demand for high-end plastics and take advantage of cheap shale gas-derived ethane, which is abundant on the US Gulf Coast. Construction of the new facility is already in progress, with start-up set for 2019.
Jacobs Engineering has won the contract to provide engineering, design and construction management services. This will include front-end engineering, detailed design and construction management to support enabling works as well as installation of offsite facilities, including rail, and interconnecting piping required for the new PE train.
Due to the long supplies of oil and natural gas in the region, ExxonMobil said it is investing billions of dollars along the Gulf to help meet growing global energy demand. These investments will not only expand existing refining and chemical capacity, but also stimulate economic growth and create more than 1,200 permanent jobs over the next few years and beyond, it said.
The US group said the Beaumont project builds on supply advantages created by the expansion of its Mont Belvieu plant, also in Texas, where two similar PE units are due to go on stream next year. The multi-billion dollar investment at the two sites will increase its overall US polyethylene production by 40%, or nearly 2 million t/y, making Texas its largest polyethylene PE hub.
“ExxonMobil is committed to continuing investments in its world-class, integrated facilities,” Cindy Shulman, vice president of ExxonMobil’s plastics and resins business, said. “We combine our state-of-the-art production expertise with a first-class technology organization, which enables us to offer innovative polyethylene products for applications such as flexible food packaging that increases product shelf life and safety,” she added.
Jason Duncan, manager of the Beaumont PE plant, said the capacity upgrade is ExxonMobil’s third significant investment in the area over the past 18 months. The refinery’s crude refining capacity was expanded in 2015 and, earlier this year construction began on a new unit to increase domestic supply of ultra-low sulfur gasoline and diesel.