Corpus Christi Project Could Yield Nearly 4,000 Jobs

Corpus Christi Project Could Yield Nearly 4,000 Jobs
M&G Group has purchased land in Corpus Christi, Texas, to construct what it contends will be the world's largest integrated PET plant.

Italy-based M&G Group announced Wednesday that it has purchased land in Corpus Christi, Texas, to construct what it contends will be the world's largest integrated polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plant.

The new complex will comprise a 1 million-tons-per-annum (mtpa) (2.2 billion pounds) PET plant and an adjacent 1.2-mtpa (2.6 billion pounds) terephthalic acid (PTA) plant. M&G, which did not disclose its projected investment, predicts the project will create up to 3,000 construction jobs and support 250 direct and 700 indirect jobs.

"The final selection and the purchase of the land is an important step as it will allow us to complete detailed engineering and permit filing," Mauro Fenoglio, project leader for the new complex, said in a company announcement.

PET is a polyester resin used in packaging applications such as food and beverage containers. PTA is a key raw material used to manufacture PET. The PET and PTA plants will be built on the northern side of the Viola Channel within the Port of Corpus Christi. M&G Group said the land, purchased from the philanthropic organization The Robert Driscoll and Julia Driscoll and Robert Driscoll, Jr. Foundation, provides good access to rail and navigable water.

With its pending development of the LaQuinta Container Terminal, the Port of Corpus Christi is expanding to become a major trade gateway for Mexico and Latin America. The port is currently the sixth-largest port in the United States in terms of tonnage. In addition, the Corpus Christi Port Authority recently announced a major rail expansion to support anticipated growth in port traffic.

"The synergies of the location, adding to the unmatched size and integration efficiency of the plant, will further remove logistic costs, making our operation by far the world lowest cost," said Marco Ghisolfi, CEO of M&G's Polymers Business Unit in a statement.

M&G Group, a family owned chemical engineering and manufacturing group headquartered in Tortona, Italy, is one of top producers of PET resin for packaging applications in the Americas. In 2012, the company's Americas operations boasted a PET production capacity of approximately 1.6 mtpa.

According to M&G, the new PET single-line plant will use the same technology as the company's single-reactor PET plant in Suape, Brazil. The Suape facility employs M&G's "EasyUp" solid state polymerization (SSP) technology.

"I always appreciate the opportunity to meet with employers that are looking to Texas as the best place to grow their business, and I'm pleased M&G is finalizing its plans to create hundreds of jobs for Texans in Corpus Christi," commented Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is participating in an economic development trip in Italy.

M&G had selected Corpus Christi for the PET and PTA plants back in July 2011. The company had also considered possible sites in Louisiana or Mississippi.

M&G told DownstreamToday the decision to locate in Corpus Christi did not hinge on the South Texas city's proximity to the oil and gas discoveries in the Eagle Ford Shale play. However, it added that having raw material sources nearby "will turn out to be a real dividend for the site."

M&G said that groundbreaking for the complex could occur by the end of 2013 pending the receipt of necessary permits. The company projects a late-2015 start-up.

Matthew V. Veazey has written about the upstream and downstream O&G sectors for more than a decade. Email Matthew at Twitter: @MatthewVVeazey