$6 billion petrochemical plant nears completion in Baytown, Texas
The dozen or so cranes readily visible from Interstate 10 in Baytown will only remain for a few more months as Chevron Phillips Chemical’s $6 billion petrochemical expansion moves closer to completion.This is another example of the importance of trade to the Texas economy. Plastics are used in consumer products from cars to phones and Big Green has no alternative source for supplying them so the carbon phobes will have a hard time stopping the development of these plants.
Chevron Phillips’ “U.S. Gulf Coast Petrochemicals Project” is more than 80 percent complete. It is expected to be up and running in about a year. The effort involves building a massive ethane cracker — on a plot the size of 44 football fields — at its Cedar Bayou plant in Baytown to take a component of natural gas to churn out 1.5 million metric tons a year of ethylene, the most common building block of plastics.
Chevron Phillips also is building two new polyethylene plastics units southwest of Houston in Old Ocean by Phillips 66’s Sweeny complex to take that ethylene and turn it into plastic resin that’s shipped both domestically and internationally
The idea for the U.S. project began in 2010, after Chevron Phillips had focused most of its growth in the Middle East with major projects in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, said Ron Corn, Chevron Phillips senior vice president of projects and supply chain,
“It was quite radical at the time,” Corn said of building massive petrochemical projects in Texas. “These are big, big projects — very complex.”
The effort is the continuation of the petrochemical boom primarily along the Gulf Coast to take advantage of cheap and ample ethane derived from natural gas through the ongoing shale revolution. The American Chemistry Council, a chemical industry trade group, estimates that more than 250 petrochemical projects are under construction or planned across the country through 2023, and they will create about 70,000 jobs. The combined cost is about $160 billion, including about $50 billion in Texas.
The growing demand for plastics is mostly coming in Asia, primarily China, but also India and Indonesia.