EXXONMOBIL will expand polyethylene output by 65% at its Beaumont plant in Texas, US, as part of a wider expansion along the Gulf Coast fuelled by abundant supplies of shale gas.
Construction of the new 650,000 t/y unit has already begun and is scheduled for completion in 2019.
“The availability of vast new supplies of US shale gas and associated liquids for feedstock and energy is a significant advantage that enables expansion to meet strong global demand growth in polyethylene,” said Cindy Shulman, vice president of ExxonMobil’s plastics and resins business.
The investment follows plans announced in the last 18 months to expand the site’s refining capacity and install a new unit to increase the output of ultra-low sulphur gasoline and diesel. Further along the Gulf Coast, the energy and chemicals major is also building two new 650,000 t/y polyethylene units at its Mont Belvieu plastics plant in Texas, with production expected to begin later this year.
The investments in Mont Belvieu and Beaumont will increase ExxonMobil’s US production of polyethylene by 40%, and follows a wave of investment by chemicals firms in the US keen to take advantage of abundant supplies of shale gas for feedstock and energy.
Dow, Formosa, LyondellBasell, and Sasol are among those set to bring new polyethylene capacity online before 2020, adding between 7.5m-8.6m t to the existing 15.4m t of capacity, according to research from Freedonia.
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