ExxonMobil announced that it is ready to start construction, with partner SABIC, on a $10 billion ethane cracker plant near Corpus Christi, Texas.
The Gulf Coast Ventures project received its final environmental regulatory approval this month to construct an ethane steam cracker, two polyethylene units and a monoethylene glycol unit. Construction is expected to start in the third quarter of this year, with completion scheduled by 2022. The selected engineering, procurement and construction companies are The Wood Group; McDermott & Turner Industries Group; Chiyoda & Kiewit; and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries & Zachry Group.
ExxonMobil said the project's building phase will create 6,000 construction jobs and generate $22 billion in economic activity.
ExxonMobil said the project will also create 600 permanent jobs and provide $50 billion of economic output in the first six years of operations.
An ethane cracker plant extracts the ethane found in natural gas and processes it into ethylene, a chemical that is used in the production of polyethylene plastic and monoethylene glycol, which is used to make products like antifreeze. ExxonMobil said the chemicals produced at the new plant will go toward making automotive coolants, building, construction materials and clothing.
The energy and petrochemical industries have had a strong, long-time presence in the Gulf Coast region of the U.S., primarily due to the area's location, which makes it a prime export hub for liquefied natural gas (LNG) and other products.
ExxonMobil also has a partnership with Qatar Petroleum to build a $10 billion LNG export facility in Sabine Pass, Texas. Construction of the Golden Pass project was to have started by the end of March. That project is also supposed to generate thousands of construction jobs — 9,000 as of the latest estimate — and inject tens of billions of dollars into the U.S. economy.
McDermott International said that it had been awarded a "mega contract" — defined by the company as one exceeding $1 billion — to build the project and that it would perform the work alongside joint venture partners Chiyoda International Corp. and Zachry Group.
ExxonMobil plans on spending $20 billion during the next 10 years to expand its operations in Texas and Louisiana, including a $2 billion expansion of its Baytown, Texas, chemical plant. This Grow the Gulf plan is part of the company's wider investment of $50 billion it plans to make in its U.S. businesses during the next five years.