ExxonMobil’s commitment to shale gas on display at new facility

By Luke Geiver | May 30, 2017

ExxonMobil Chemical Co.’s place in the shale gas industry was strengthened this month following the completion of two new 650,000 ton per year polyethylene lines at its plastics plant in Mont Belvieu, Texas. The plant will utilize the ethylene portion of natural gas produced from shale as a feedstock for polyethylene, a product used in plastics and packaging.

“As an early mover to complete a polyethylene project fueled by the shale gas revolution, this world-scale, state-of-the-art facility will double the plant’s production capacity, making it one of the largest polyethylene plants in the world,” said Neil Chapman, president of ExxonMobil Chemical Co.

In 2014, ExxonMobil began an expansion project for an ethane cracker near the Mont Belvieu facility. Prior to that, the oil giant merged with XTO Energy—a shale oil and gas producer operating in the U.S.

At the time of the expansion in 2014, Steve Pryor, president, said it was only possible due to the abundant, affordable supply of natural gas. “Shale development has provided U.S. chemical producers a double benefit as an energy source as a key raw material to make plastics and other essential products, creating jobs and economic activity across the value chain,” he said.

For ExxonMobil, the expansions at its Baytown, Texas-complex, is part of a larger plan to grow the Gulf coast region. Over ten years, the company intends to invest $20 billion into the region to further expand its chemical processing capabilities.

“As the U.S. continues to produce abundant supplies of oil and natural gas, ExxonMobil is investing billions of dollars along the U.S. Gulf Coast to help meet growing global demand,” Chapman said. “These investments will not only expand existing refining and chemical capacity, but also stimulate economic growth and create jobs.”

The $20 billion Growing the Gulf initiative is expected to create 12,000 full-time jobs.

Startup of the new polyethylene lines is expected to commence in the third quarter of this year.