Largest petrochemical plant in world planned for Houston Ship Channel--2,500 construction jobs

Houston Chronicle:
The Houston petrochemical company LyondellBasell said it will move forward with its most expensive project ever, a $2.4 billion plant near the Houston Ship Channel that would become the largest factory of its kind in the world.

The project, which would create some 2,500 construction jobs and 160 permanent positions at the plant, represents a continuation of the petrochemical boom along the Gulf Coast fueled by cheap and ample natural gas liquids and supported by access to foreign markets through the growing export terminals at the Port of Houston and other Texas ports. The American Chemistry Council, a trade group, estimated the Texas Gulf Coast accounts for about $70 billion of the $185 billion in petrochemical plants completed since 2010 or planned through 2023.

The Houston area today boasts one of the world's greatest concentrations of petrochemical plants, in many ways the result of the shale-drilling boom that produced large amounts of natural gas liquids - primarily ethane- which provide the feedstock for most modern chemicals, including plastics. The rapid growth of the sector, which created tens of thousands of construction jobs and thousands of permanent positions, helped the region weather the worst oil bust in generations and avoid the broader economic collapse that battered the area in the 1980s.

The industry's expansion has slowed as projects have been completed, but it continues to attract investment from some of the world's biggest companies. Exxon Mobil, Chevron Phillips Chemical and Dow Chemical are building modern plastics expansions near Houston in Mont Belvieu, Old Ocean and Freeport, respectively.

LyondellBasell's latest expansion, said Bob Harvey, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership, solidifies "Houston's position as a global hub of petrochemical manufacturing, leveraging Houston's strategic access to the Americas and top markets around the world."

The new LyondellBasell plant will make propylene oxide, which is used to make bedding, carpeting, coatings, building materials and adhesives, and the by-product tertiary butyl alcohol, which is refined into an additive that makes fuels burn cleaner. The plant will have the biggest production capacity in the world for these chemicals, capable of manufacturing 1 billion pounds of propylene oxide and 2.2 billion pounds of tertiary butyl alcohol a year.
The shale gas revolution continues to create US manufacturing jobs and taps into a huge export market that should help the US balance of trade.   There is a photo showing the site's location at the link above.  It will be strategically located for the export market.

The petrochemical plant construction is one reason Texas weathered the downturn in oil prices.  Texas job growth continues to lead the nation.  It has been helped by the blue state model that disdains energy growth.


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