ExxonMobil Explores PP Production Expansion Along U.S. Gulf Coast

New PP project investment decision likely to be made later this year with startup as early as 2021.

Detailed engineering work on a potential U.S. Gulf Coast production facility to expand PP capacity by up to 900 million lb/yr to meet growing demand for high-performance, lightweight durable plastics, is underway by ExxonMobil, Irving, Texas.

The new facility would be capable of producing advanced PP grades for use in high-performance automotive, appliance, and packaging applications. Such materials are key to reducing vehicle weight, which helps improve fuel efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. The company notes that today’s plastics and polymer composite, which can replace steel in many applications, typically comprise about 50 percent of a new car’s volume but only 10 percent of its weight. “Polypropylene is a versatile material providing high impact resistance and high stiffness to lightweight applications. It is safe, can be recycled and requires less energy to produce when compared with other plastics,” says Cindy Shulman, v.p. of plastics and resins.

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The company sees itself well positioned to take advantage of the increasing demand for higher-value materials in both North America and the high-growth Asia Pacific region. Says John Verity, president of ExxonMobil Chemical Company, “Abundant supplies of domestically produced oil and natural gas have reduced energy costs and created new sources of feedstocks for U.S.chemical manufacturing. Most of our planned investment in the Gulf Coast region is focused on supplying emerging markets like Asia with high-demand products, which ultimately will spur new economic growth locally.” 

This potential investment is one of 13 facilities planned to grow ExxonMobil’s chemical manufacturing capacity in North America and Asia Pacific by about 40 percent. These investments, including two world-class steam crackers in the U.S., will enable the company to meet increasing demand in Asia and other growing numbers. 

A final decision on this project is expected before year’s end. The potential project will create more than 600 jobs during peak construction and more than 60 permanent jobs once production commences. Startup could be as early as 2021.

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