Permian growth prompts Exxon to build third unit at Beaumont refinery

Article by Adam Duckett

EXXONMOBIL has started building a third crude unit at its Beaumont refinery in Texas, US, in a move that will expand processing capacity by more than 65%.

Production at the new 250,000 bbl/d unit is expected to begin by 2022 and will increase light crude refining at the facility on the back of climbing oil output from the Permian Basin. Analytics firm IHS Markit projected last year that production in the Permian Basin will more than double by 2023, rising 3m bbl/d to 5.4m bbl/d. It expects this will contribute 60% of total growth in global production, driven by nearly 41,000 new wells and US$308bn in upstream spending between 2018–2023.

Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of IHS Markit, said in June last year: “In the past 24 months, production from just this one region – the Permian – has grown far more than any other entire country in the world. Add an additional 3m bbl/d by 2023 – more than the total present-day production of Kuwait – and you have a level of production that exceeds the current production of every OPEC nation except for Saudi Arabia.”

Bryan Milton, president of ExxonMobil Fuels and Lubricants, said: “With access to terminals, railways, pipelines and waterways nearby, the Beaumont refinery is strategically positioned to benefit from Permian production growth. The addition of a third crude unit in Beaumont will enhance the refinery’s competitive position and truly establish it as a leader in the US refining industry.”

ExxonMobil expects the project will create up to 1,850 jobs during construction and 40–60 permanent jobs during production.

The investment comes as part of wider growth plans at ExxonMobil dubbed ‘growing the Gulf’. This includes a 65% expansion in polyethylene capacity at Beaumont and a new 1.5m t/y ethane cracker at its Baytown refining and chemicals complex in Texas.

Article by Adam Duckett

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