ExxonMobil has commenced operations of two new chemical production units at its Baytown petrochemical complex in Texas to mark the completion of a $2bn expansion project.

The two new additions to the Baytown refinery are a performance polymers line and a linear alpha olefins unit. The refinery expansion project was announced in 2019.

According to the company, the expansion is part of its long-term growth strategy, which is aimed at producing more valuable products from its refining and chemical facilities along the US Gulf Coast.

ExxonMobil product solutions president Karen McKee said: “With startup of these two new lines, ExxonMobil is delivering high-value materials for a variety of products that society depends on every day.

“We achieved excellent safety performance by leveraging our expertise to plan and execute large projects, while providing meaningful investment in the U.S. Gulf Coast.”

The new performance polymers line is set to manufacture 400,000 metric tons per annum of polymer modifiers under the Vistamaxx and Exact brands.

ExxonMobil said that the modifiers have the capacity to enhance the performance of a wide spectrum of chemical products utilised in the production of automotive components, construction materials, hygiene, and personal care items, as well as diverse packaging applications.

Vistamaxx contributes to the longevity of consumer goods such as reusable containers, thereby extending their useful lifespan, and facilitates the incorporation of higher recycled materials, said the energy company.

On the other hand, Exact addresses the rising demand within the automotive sector for thinner and lighter components that enhance fuel efficiency.

The linear alpha olefins unit is designed to manufacture 350,000 tons annually of products under the Elevexx brand. It marks ExxonMobil’s debut in this market.

Linear alpha olefins find utility in plastic packaging, high-performance engine and industrial oils, among various other applications. Additionally, they serve as fundamental components for surfactants, which decrease surface tension for cleaning and industrial purposes, and as drag-reducing agents, boosting the efficiency of crude oil flow through pipelines.

Throughout the construction phase, the Baytown refinery expansion project contributed to the employment of over 3,500 individuals. Upon reaching full operational capacity, it will directly provide jobs for an additional 200 people, said the company.

It is anticipated that the two new plants at the Baytown petrochemical complex will play a role in ExxonMobil achieving an estimated 15% return on investment in the chemicals sector.