ExxonMobil’s Baytown refinery complex in Texas is one of the biggest integrated refinery and petrochemical facilities in the US. The refinery is capable of processing approximately 560,500 barrels of crude oil a day (bpd).

Originally developed and operated by Humble Oil and Refining Company, the Baytown refinery began operations in 1920 while the chemical plant went on stream in 1940.

The Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, which was later renamed as Exxon, completed the acquisition of Humble Oil and Refining Company in 1959.

The olefins plant at the site started operations in 1979, and ExxonMobil built another plant close to the complex in Mont Belvieu to produce polyethylene in 1982.

Baytown refinery location and site details

The ExxonMobil Baytown refining and petrochemical complex is located on a 3,400acre-site along the Houston ship channel, approximately 40km east of Houston in Texas, US.

The Mont Belvieu plastics plant is situated near the complex in Mont Belvieu, Chambers County, Texas.

Baytown oil refinery infrastructure

The Baytown refinery is one of the largest refineries in the US in terms of crude oil processing capacity. The various facilities in the refinery include three crude distillation units, a sulphur plant, a hydrotreater, fluid catalytic cracking units, a delayed coker unit, hydrofining units, hydrodesulphurisation and deasphalter units.

The refinery processes heavy and high-sulphur crude oil and produces a range of products including petrol, diesel, jet fuel, heating oil, and carbon coke. The refinery also supplies feedstock for the chemical and olefins plants in the complex.

Baytown chemical plant

The annual production capacity of the Baytown chemical plant is 700,000t of polypropylene, 600,000t of paraxylene, 125,000t of butyl, 50,000t of synthetics, and other performance products.

ExxonMobil sanctioned a £1.5bn ($2bn) investment for the expansion of the chemical plant at the Baytown complex in May 2019.

Scheduled for completion in 2022, the Baytown chemical plant expansion project includes a new 400,000 tonnes per annum (Mtpa) Vistamaxx performance polymer unit as well as a linear alpha olefins unit of 350,000Mtpa capacity.

Baytown olefins plant

The Baytown olefins plant produces approximately 3.8 million tonnes of ethylene a year apart from producing propylene and butadiene.

ExxonMobil started operating a new 1.5Mtpa ethane cracker unit with eight steam cracking furnaces and recovery equipment in July 2018.

The plant also houses a gas-fired 160MW cogeneration unit that was commissioned in 2005. The cogeneration plant is equipped with a gas-turbine power generator and a heat-recovery unit to produce steam which is used in manufacturing processes.

The ethylene produced by the olefins plant is supplied to the Mont Belvieu plastics plant.

Mont Belvieu plastics plant

The Mont Belvieu plastics plant, with more than 2.5Mtpa of total production capacity, is one of the biggest polyethylene plants in the world.

The two new high-performance polyethylene lines with 1.3Mtpa of combined production capacity were brought in to production in 2017. The new high-performance plastic products involve lower energy consumption and are suitable for lighter weight and higher performance packaging.

Contractors involved

ClearSign Technologies was contracted to fabricate and install process burners at the Baytown refinery in June 2020.

A consortium of Tecnimont, a subsidiary of Maire Tecnimont, and Performance Contractors was contracted for the implementation of new process units as part of the Baytown chemical plant expansion project in May 2019.

Bechtel and Linde were contracted to design and build a 1.55Mtpa ethane cracker unit at the Baytown complex in June 2014. Bechtel’s scope included the construction of the unit while Linde was responsible for engineering and procurement services for the project.

A consortium of Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding and Heurtey Petrochem was contracted for the engineering and construction of new steam cracking furnaces at the Baytown olefins plant in August 2014.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America completed the construction of two high-performance polyethylene production trains of 650,000tpa capacity each at the Mont Belvieu plastics plant in 2017.

Jacobs Engineering Group bagged a contract to provide engineering, procurement, and construction services for site enabling works and interconnections between the Baytown complex and associated product facilities in Mont Belvieu as part of an ethane cracker project in August 2014.

Wood Group Mustang's automation and control business unit provided process control systems, detailed engineering, procurement, and fabrication services for both the ethane cracker project in Baytown as well as the new polyethylene production lines in Mont Belvieu.