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EXXONMOBIL: Baytown ethane cracker ready to start / Shale fuels more Gulf investment

The new 1.5m t/y shale gas-fed ethane cracker planned by ExxonMobil Chemical (Baytown, Texas / USA; www.exxonmobilchemical.com) at its headquarters site since 2012 â€" see Plasteurope.com of 05.06.2012 â€" is now mechanically complete and ready to start up in Q2, the company said. The facility, part of the US petrochemicals giant’s multi-billion dollar chemical expansion project for Baytown, will provide ethylene feedstock to the two new 650,000 t/y HDPE plants at nearby Mont Belvieu, also built as part of the project. One of the two PE units went on stream in October 2017 â€" see Plasteurope.com of 26.10.2017 â€" a start-up date for the second has not been given. The cracker’s start-up was initially announced for 2016, without any explanation provided for the delay of more than a year.

“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 the chemicals arm, adding that the shale gas-fed cracker will allow the multinational player 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 bn “Growing the Gulf” initiative announced in 2013 â€" see Plasteurope.com of 15.03.2017. Also as part of the initiative, ExxonMobil and Sabic (Riyadh / Saudi Arabia; www.sabic.com) are planning a new US shale gas-fed petrochemicals and plastics complex in San Patricio County, Texas, which according to reports will cost USD 9-10 bn and go on stream sometime after 2020 â€" see Plasteurope.com of 25.04.2017. The complex would also include a 1.8m t/y ethane cracker, which is being touted as the largest of its kind.

With capacity of around 10m t/y, according to PIE’s Polyglobe database (www.polyglobe.net), ExxonMobil is the world’s largest PE producer, besides being the largest producer of natural gas. With the start-up of the new Baytown cracker, the fully integrated group will rise to third place among ethylene producers.

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