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ExxonMobil commissioning ethane cracker in Baytown complex

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

A new 1.5 million tpy ethane cracker at ExxonMobil’s Baytown, Texas, US, complex is mechanically complete, with commissioning progressing well. Project startup is expected during 2Q18.

The ethane cracker, part of ExxonMobil’s multi-billion dollar Baytown chemical expansion project, will provide ethylene feedstock to the new performance polyethylene lines in Mont Belvieu, which began production in the fall of 2017.

The chemical expansion project is a key component of ExxonMobil’s previously-announced Growing the Gulf initiative. In addition to the ethane cracker in Baytown, ExxonMobil and SABIC are proposing to build a jointly owned petrochemical complex in San Patricio County, Texas, which would include a 1.8 million tpy ethane cracker.

“With the completion of the project in Baytown, we are on the verge of fully realising one of ExxonMobil’s most significant US Gulf Coast investments,” said John Verity, president of ExxonMobil Chemical Co. “Our new ethane cracker will allow us 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.”

The project has created more than 10 000 construction jobs and 4000 related jobs in nearby Houston communities since construction began in 2014. Once operational, it is expected to support 350 new permanent positions at the Baytown complex, US$870 million/yr in regional economic activity and US$90 million/yr in local tax revenues.

New supplies of oil and natural gas have dramatically reduced energy costs and created new sources of feedstock for US refining and chemical manufacturing. Most of ExxonMobil’s planned new chemical capacity investment in the Gulf region is focused on supplying export markets, such as Asia with high-demand products, which will contribute to strengthening the US’ balance of trade. Recent changes in the US corporate tax rate also create an environment for increased future capital investments in projects such as these, and will further enhance the company’s competitiveness in global markets.

“The US chemical industry is rapidly expanding along the Gulf Coast due to abundant supplies of domestically produced natural gas, as demonstrated by the investments ExxonMobil alone is making,” Verity said. “This expansion will not only increase the nation’s existing manufacturing and export capacity, but also further stimulate economic growth and create thousands of full-time jobs.”

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