Japanese building new chemical plant near Houston

Fuel Fix:
Tokyo-based Kuraray chemical company will soon open its new plant near Houston that’ll produce materials for windshield safety glass and the rapidly growing segment of laundry and dishwasher detergent pods.

Kuraray will hold a samurai sword, ribbon-cutting ceremony later this month, but the new petrochemical plant already has begun producing sample polyvinyl alcohol — the polymer used to make the resin for safety glass for car windshields and more — to market to potential customers, said George Avdey, president and CEO of Kuraray America. The polyvinyl alcohol is marketed under the Kuraray Poval brand.

This is Kuraray’s third plant southeast of Houston, Avdey said, but the project represents the company’s largest geographic investment in the region on 81 acres along Bay Area Boulevard in Harris County’s Bayport development. The plant is only occupying half of the acreage.

“There’s always opportunities and, when the time is right, we’ll expand,” Avdey said Tuesday in a phone interview.

Kuraray is not revealing the project costs. The plant will employ 54 people, as well as about 40 contract personnel.

The project is a direct result of Texas’ natural gas shale boom, which results in cheap ethane and butane feedstocks to manufacture the chemicals, as well as cheap electricity to operate the plant, Avdey said. Other countries use a form of crude oil that’s plummeted in price to produce chemicals, but natural gas remains cheaper, he said.
There is more on the growth of the petrochemical business in Texas where 104 projects are underway or planned that will create over 15,000 permanent jobs.  Nationwide the figures are even higher.  

This is a rebuttal to the Trump theme that the US is losing in the international market and with trade from countries like Japan.  It also demonstrates that the anti-energy left has no real alternative for the petrochemical business which relies on inexpensive natural gas from shale fracking well.


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