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ExxonMobil adding major PP resin unit in Louisiana

ExxonMobil Chemical Co. plans to build a major new polypropylene resin unit in Baton Rouge, La., with annual production capacity of almost 1 billion pounds.
Construction on the new PP unit will begin this year, with production set to start in 2021, officials with Irving, Texas-based ExxonMobil said in a Feb. 28 news release. The project is expected to create up to 600 jobs during construction and 65 permanent jobs once completed.

“Growth in feedstock supply, along with the increase in global demand for chemical products, continues to drive our strategic investments and expansion along the Gulf Coast,” ExxonMobil Chemical President John Verity said in the release.

“We’re well positioned to meet the demand for these high-performance products and investing further in Baton Rouge enhances our facility’s competitiveness,” he added.

Officials added that PP “is a versatile material that can help improve the safety and performance of everyday consumer products and help improve vehicle fuel efficiency when used to manufacture lighter-weight auto parts.”

PP resin availability has been an issue in North America twice in the last three years. Production problems at existing PP sites resulted in a need for large amounts of imported PP in the region in both 2016 and 2018.

The Lake Charles PP project is in addition to ExxonMobil’s previously announced plans to invest $20 billion to build and expand manufacturing facilities in the U.S. Gulf region as part of its Growing the Gulf initiative.

Growing the Gulf projects include a new lubricants blending, packaging and distribution facility in the Baton Rouge area, as well as refining and chemical expansions at ExxonMobil’s Beaumont and Baytown facilities.

Since 2017, ExxonMobil has added more than 3 billion pounds of annual polyethylene resin production capacity, mostly at a new facility in Mont Belvieu, Texas. ExxonMobil and other firms are adding capacity as a result of newfound supplies of natural gas feedstock throughout North America.

In July, ExxonMobil opened a massive new ethane cracker in Baytown with annual capacity of more than 3 billion pounds of ethylene feedstock. Officials said at the time that the new capacity will be used to make PE in Mont Belvieu.

ExxonMobil’s integrated operations in Baton Rouge include a 502,000 barrel-per-day oil refinery, as well as chemical, lubricants and PE plants. ExxonMobil has more than 2,500 employees in the Baton Rouge area.

Credit: Plastics News