Dow Chemical plans investing in expansion of its already large petrochemical facilities in Texas

Fuel Fix:
Dow Chemical said Thursday it’s planning to spend $4 billion in further expansions in Texas, its Michigan headquarters and in Europe.

The chemical giant will keep growing its largest industrial campus — south of Houston in Freeport and Lake Jackson — to continue taking advantage of cheap and abundant shale natural gas that’s used as the primary feedstock to make chemicals and plastics. The expansion will give Freeport the largest ethylene plant in the world, Dow said.

Dow this year is completing a separate $6 billion expansion along the Gulf Coast, but primarily in Freeport. That includes a “crown jewel” ethane cracker plant to 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 cracker project was completed in March, but won’t commence operations for a few more weeks or so. The recent expansion added 500 permanent jobs in Freeport.

The upcoming Freeport expansion will add two heating furnaces to the cracker’s existing eight furnaces, upping its total ethylene capacity to 2 million metric tons and making it the world’s largest ethylene facility.

Dow also will build a new 600,000 metric ton plastics plant, but hasn’t announced whether it will be built in Freeport or Louisiana along the Gulf Coast. Dow will expand some its existing polyethylene facilities — polyethylene being the world’s most common plastic — throughout to U.S. to increase its total capacity by 350,000 metric tons.
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There is more.

The availability of inexpensive natural gas is largely pushing these investments in the expansion of the business, but I think also the fact that the anti-energy left has no viable alternative to this important industry in its war against the fossil fuel industry makes it a safer bet.

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