ExxonMobil is set to commission a new ethane cracker with capacity of 1.5 million ton-per-year at its Baytown chemical complex in Texas, US.

The ethane cracker, which is now mechanically complete, is planned to be commissioned during the second quarter of 2018.

A part of ExxonMobil’s Baytown chemical expansion project, the new ethane cracker is designed to provide ethylene feedstock to the newly commissioned performance polyethylene lines in Mont Belvieu plastics plant.

Each of the polyethylene line has a production capacity of 650,000t per year.

ExxonMobil Chemical Company president John Verity said: “With the completion of the project in Baytown, we are on the verge of fully realizing one of ExxonMobil’s most significant U.S. Gulf Coast investments.

“Our new ethane cracker will allow us to economically meet rapidly growing demand for high-performance polyethylene products around the world while continuing to sustain economic development and create jobs for decades to come.”

The expansion project, which commenced in 2014, has created more than 10,000 construction jobs and 4,000 related jobs in nearby Houston communities.

Upon completion, the expansion project is expected to create 350 new permanent jobs and generate $90m per year in local tax revenues.

In addition to ethane cracker plant and polyethylene lines, the chemical expansion project involves installation of eight new steam cracking furnaces as well as a new cooling tower and flare system.

Separately, ExxonMobil has partnered with SABIC to build a jointly owned petrochemical complex in San Patricio County, Texas. The complex would include a 1.8 million ton-per-year ethane cracker.

Verity added: “The US chemical industry is rapidly expanding along the Gulf Coast due to abundant supplies of domestically produced natural gas, as demonstrated by the investments ExxonMobil alone is making.

“This expansion will not only increase the nation’s existing manufacturing and export capacity, but also further stimulate economic growth and create thousands of full-time jobs.”

ExxonMobil said that the recent US corporate tax rate changes create an environment for increased future investments in expansion projects and further boost its competitiveness in global markets.

Image: ExxonMobil’s Baytown chemical expansion project in the US is expected to create 350 permanent jobs upon completion. Photo: courtesy of Business Wire/ExxonMobil.