Big Oil Plans to Unleash a Flood of Plastic From US Gulf

Big Oil Plans to Unleash a Flood of Plastic From US Gulf
The world's biggest oil and chemical companies are about to unleash a tidal wave of plastic raw materials by the mid-2020s.

(Bloomberg) -- The world’s biggest oil and chemical companies are about to unleash a tidal wave of plastic raw materials by the mid-2020s, tapping cheap shale gas to meet growing demand from makers of everything from toys to plumbing to consumer goods.

Exxon Mobil Corp., Dow Inc., France’s Total SA, South Africa’s Sasol Ltd. and Saudi Basic Industries Corp. have built or announced at least $40 billion in new petrochemical facilities in Texas and Louisiana, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The most recent is an $8 billion joint venture between Chevron Corp., Phillips 66 and Qatar Petroleum announced this week.

Companies involved | Projected cost | Location
Sasol | $11.8 billion | Louisiana
Exxon, Sabic | $10 billion | Texas
Chevron Phillips, Qatar Petroleum | $8 billion | U.S. Gulf Coast
Dow | $6 billion | Texas, Louisiana
LyondellBasell Industries NV | $2.4 billion | Texas
Exxon | $2 billion | Texas
Total, Nova Chemicals, Borealis | $1.7 billion | Texas

The investments in Gulf of Mexico coastal factories come amid a consumer backlash against plastic bags and straws for their environmental impact. The total amount of oceanic plastic waste is expected to more than double by 2030 if action isn’t taken now, the International Energy Agency said in a report last year.

In the U.S. alone, New York City, Seattle, Oakland and Miami Beach all have either banned straws or have pending proposals to do so. Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco prohibit plastic bags, while several other cities imposed fees for using plastic bags at grocery stores.

Mark Lashier, chief executive officer of the Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. joint venture that’s partnering with Qatar Petroleum, said he’s not worried about straw or bag bans hitting the plastics industry. Some forecasters see plastic demand growing quicker than oil, which is under threat from renewable energy and electric vehicles.

“We certainly take that into account in our supply and demand balances, but the demand in general for plastic materials is growing greater than 4% a year,” he said. “The world is going to need more and more of this as the world population grows.”

To contact the reporters on this story:
Andres Guerra Luz in Houston at;
Rachel Adams-Heard in Houston at;
Kevin Crowley in Houston at

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Simon Casey at
Carlos Caminada, Joe Carroll


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joe taylor  |  July 11, 2019
In the Netherlands they've found a way to pave streets with recycled plastics
Timothy Snider  |  July 10, 2019
The problem is not the producers of plastics, but the people who are supposed to be disposing of the plastics. How many tons of garbage are dumped in the oceans every day by people that are paid to dispose of trash. Currently the world cannot live without plastics. Make plastics a cradle to the grave thing where you can only produce as much as you recycle. Yes I understand that all plastics can't be used again for the same purpose, but recycled plastics can be repurposed. Everything doesn't have to be clear new plastic. Make it mandatory to recycle plastic. People won't like it, but they would like not having plastics more. We are a long way from not needing plastic. I have tons of ways to use recycled ugly plastic.