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ExxonMobil’s new US cracker mechanically complete, Commissioning underway

ExxonMobil’s new ethane cracker at Baytown, Texas, is mechanically complete, with commissioning progressing well, the US-based energy and chemicals major said on Tuesday.

Start-up of the cracker, with a capacity of 1.5m tonnes/year of ethylene, is expected during the second quarter of 2018.

The cracker will provide ethylene feedstock to new performance polyethylene (PE) lines in Mont Belvieu, Texas, which began production in autumn last 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 ExxonMobil Chemical.

“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,” he added.

The Baytown chemical expansion project is a key component of ExxonMobil’s ‘Growing in the Gulf’ initiative.

In addition to the ethane cracker in Baytown, ExxonMobil and SABIC are proposing to build a jointly owned petrochemicals complex in San Patricio County, Texas, that would include an ethane cracker with a capacity of 1.8m tonne/year of ethylene – “the largest capacity of any ethane cracker built to date”, the company said.

Massive new supplies of oil and natural gas have dramatically reduced energy costs and created new sources of feedstock for US refining and chemical manufacturing, the company said.

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, it said.

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 company added.

“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.”

Source: ICIS

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