ExxonMobil Starts Work on New PE Unit at Beaumont

ExxonMobil is adding a new production unit at its polyethylene (PE) plant in Beaumont, Texas, the company reported Monday.

"The availability of vast new supplies of U.S. shale gas and associated liquids for feedstock and energy is a significant advantage that enables expansion to meet strong global demand growth in polyethylene," Cindy Shulman, vice president of ExxonMobil's plastics and resins business, stated in a press release.

According to ExxonMobil, the new production unit will add approximately 650,000 tonnes per year of PE capacity to the Southeast Texas facility – a 65-percent increase – to meet growing demand for the plastics used in food packaging. The company is also adding two similar PE units at its Mont Belvieu Plastics Plant near Houston. It stated that the projects at Mont Belvieu and Beaumont will increase its U.S. PE production by nearly 2 million tonnes per year – a 40-percent jump. In fact, ExxonMobil noted that Texas will become the company's largest PE supply point.

ExxonMobil has begun construction of the new unit at Beaumont and expects a 2019 startup. The project will employ 1,400 construction workers and create 40 permanent jobs upon completion, the company stated. It reportedly also will generate $20 billion in economic activity during its first 13 years of operations, based on 2015 Impact Data Source estimates.

"We're part of the growth in an area that is primed for new business," said Jason Duncan, manager of the Beaumont PE plant. "The expansion of the polyethylene plant is now ExxonMobil's third significant investment in the Beaumont area over the past 18 months, the impact of which will benefit the local economy in the years to come."

Other recent ExxonMobil projects in Beaumont have included a 2015 crude refining capacity expansion and construction earlier this year of a new unit to increase domestic supply of ultra-low sulfur gasoline and diesel, the company stated.