ExxonMobil Baytown Cracker Ready to Start
ExxonMobil’s new 1.5 million t/y ethane cracker at Baytown, Texas, USA, is mechanically complete, and start-up is now expected during the second quarter of this year, the US multinational oil and chemicals group said this week.
The new facility, part of ExxonMobil’s multi-billion dollar Baytown chemical expansion project, will provide ethylene feedstock to the two new 650,000 t/y HDPE plants at nearby Mont Belvieu, which began production in October 2017. Announced in 2012, the cracker’s start-up was initially expected for 2016. No explanation was given for the delay.
“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, adding that the shale gas-fed cracker will allow the company to “economically meet rapidly growing demand for high-performance polyethylene products around the world.”
The Baytown project is a key component of the company’s 10-year, EUR 20 billionGrowing the Gulf initiative. Separately, ExxonMobil and Saudi Arabia’s SABIC plan to build a jointly owned petrochemical complex in San Patricio County, Texas, which would include a 1.8 million t/y ethane cracker. This is being touted as the largest capacity of any ethane cracker built to date.
Ever new sources of unconventional feedstock for US refining and chemical manufacturing in the Gulf region have given rise to an unprecedented spate of new petrochemical projects. Most of ExxonMobil’s new capacity is earmarked for export, in particular to Asia. The petrochemical giant hinted that the recent slashing of the US corporate tax rate by Congress “also creates an environment for increased future capital investments in projects such as these.”
ExxonMobil is regarded as the largest natural gas producer in the US. The new cracker will add 350 jobs and increase the company’s permanent workforce at Baytown to 6,850 people.