Dow's $6 billion petrochemical plant complete on gurlf Coast of Texas

Fuel Fix:
Dow Chemical said Tuesday it completed the massive ethane cracker plant in Freeport that’s the “crown jewel” of its more than $6 billion expansion along the Gulf Coast, primarily just south of Houston.

The cracker facility will churn out 1.5 million metric tons a year of ethylene, which is derived from natural gas liquids and is used as the primary building block of most plastics. The plant, which is part of Dow’s sprawling complex in Freeport and Lake Jackson, won’t fully commence operations until midyear.

“The Freeport ethylene unit is the cornerstone of our $6 billion investment in the U.S. Gulf Coast,” said Andrew Liveris, Dow’s chairman and CEO. “Our growth investments leverage the advantaged shale gas supply available in the U.S.”

Indeed there are a bevy of new ethane crackers in Texas under construction that are all planning to take advantage of Texas’ ample and cheap natural gas supplies unlocked by the shale revolution.

Dow’s announcement comes just one day after Paris energy giant Total said it will build an ethane cracker with a 1 million ton per year capacity at its Port Arthur facility, as well as a new plastics plant just east of Houston near La Porte.

Occidental Petroleum, Exxon Mobil and Chevron Phillips Chemical all are completing major ethane cracker and plastics plant projects this year along the Texas Gulf Coast, including the Houston area, for the same purposes. They’re producing chemicals and plastics, much of which will be exported to the developing world with growing middle classes, especially Asia.
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The shale revolution has created several winners and the petrochemical business is among them.  The anti-energy left has no alternative to the production of plastics for products ranging from autos to toys.  With new plants beginning construction, the workers who built this plant will probably remain employed, and new permanent jobs should begin with the operations.

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