June 19 Exxon Mobil Corp said on
Thursday it has started construction on a new chemical plant in
Baytown, Texas, and begun expanding a nearby plant, part of a
plan to use shale-derived natural gas to make plastics and other
The Baytown plant, known within the industry as a cracker,
will be able to produce 1.5 million tonnes of ethylene per year.
Exxon, the largest U.S. producer of natural gas, is
simultaneously expanding a Mont Belvieu plant to be able to
process the ethylene into polyethylene. Polyethylene, a basic
plastic, is used to make bags, bottles and other common consumer
A company spokeswoman declined to provide the precise cost
of the multi-billion dollar project, describing it as
Exxon estimates the Houston-area projects will require about
10,000 workers to construct and create 4,000 jobs in the local
economy. About 350 permanent jobs will be created at the plant,
Natural gas production in the United States has spiked in
the past five years thanks to the development of shale
formations in Texas, Pennsylvania and other states. Exxon and
other major chemical producers, including Dow Chemical Co
, have responded to the trend by announcing plans to
build massive new chemical plants.
Exxon's plant, one of the first to break ground, is expected
to be online by 2017.
Bechtel, Linde, Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding
and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries have been
awarded contracts for various phases of the projects.
(Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; Editing by Marguerita Choy)