New Chevron Phillips Chemical ethane cracker begins operation

By Patrick C. Miller | March 16, 2018

Chevron Phillips Chemical has begun operating a new ethane cracker at its Cedar Bayou facility in Baytown, Texas.

Billed as one of the world’s largest and most efficient ethane crackers, it can produce 3.3 billion pounds per year at peak production. Mark Lashier, company president and CEO, said the need for the unit was born from the shale revolution providing low-cost feedstock to Chevron’s Gulf Coast facilities.

In September 2017, Chevron Phillips Chemical announced the successful commissioning and start-up of two new Marlex polyethylene units in Old Ocean, Texas, based on the company's proprietary MarTech technologies. Together, these assets form the bulk of the company's U.S. Gulf Coast Petrochemicals Project (USGCPP), which was first announced in 2011.

"Construction of these world-scale assets has been ongoing since 2014 and today, we are entering a new era of growth," Lashier said. "With global demand for ethylene and polyethylene poised for sustained long-term growth, the U.S. Gulf Coast Petrochemicals Project will allow Chevron Phillips Chemical to deliver high-quality products to our customers across the country and around the globe."

Ethylene produced by the new ethane cracker will be used to meet the needs of the company's derivative units, including the two new polyethylene units at Old Ocean, which are capable of producing a wide variety of products, ranging from metallocene linear low-density polyethylene to advanced dual loop bimodal polyethylene resins.

These resins are turned into consumer and industrial products such as plastic films for food safety and preservation; and polyethylene pipe for water distribution and natural gas transport. In addition, the ethylene will feed the company's AlphaPlus normal alpha olefins plants which are used extensively for polyethylene comonomers, plasticizers, synthetic motor oils, lubricants, automotive additives, surfactants, paper sizing and a wide range of other specialty applications.

"Our company and our growing employee base, the communities we call home, and the entire Gulf Coast region's economy will benefit for decades to come as our project comes to life," Lashier said.

At peak construction, the USGCPP employed approximately 10,000 construction workers. Combined, it has generated 400 additional permanent jobs.