Dow Chemical picks Freeport, Texas, for new ethylene cracker

By Frank Esposito
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: April 19, 2012 6:00 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Materials, Suppliers

FREEPORT, TEXAS (April 19, 1:35 p.m. ET) — Dow Chemical Co. has chosen Freeport, Texas, as the site of a new plant making ethylene, a key plastics feedstock.

The cracker will be part of an overall investment of $4 billion in Dow’s ethylene and propylene production in the U.S. Gulf Coast, officials with Midland, Mich.-based Dow said in an April 19 news release. The unit is expected to open in 2017 and will employ 2,000 at the peak of construction.

The new cracker will have annual ethylene capacity of 3.3 billion pounds and will employ 150 when fully operational, a Dow spokeswoman said. The project could create as many as 1,200 jobs in the area, according to industry projections, she added. No increased polyethylene production has been announced as part of the Dow expansion.

Low prices for natural gas in the region played a role in Dow’s decision, since natural gas can be used to make ethane, which is then converted into ethylene.

“For the first time in over a decade, U.S. natural gas prices are affordable and relatively stable, attracting new industry investments and growth, and putting us on the threshold of an American manufacturing resurgence,” Dow Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris said in the release.

“Constructing this new ethylene cracker at Dow Texas Operations will create a long-term advantage for our downstream businesses and for our company as a whole,” he added. “And the benefits will accrue not only to Dow, but to the state and national economy.”

The Freeport complex already ranks as Dow’s largest integrated manufacturing site worldwide and the largest single-company chemical complex in North America, officials said. The site currently employs 4,200 Dow workers, plus 3,000 contractors, and it accounts for 44 percent of Dow’s U.S. production and 20 percent of its global production across all product types.

Jim Fitterling, Dow executive vice president, said the outlook for advantaged U.S. natural gas “was a significant factor” in Dow’s investment. “Today, 70 percent of the company’s global ethylene assets are in regions with cost-advantaged feedstocks,” he added. “We’ve seen the benefits this advantage provides, given oil-based naphtha margin pressure in Europe and Asia.”

Liveris made the site selection announcement in Freeport on April 19, at a ceremony attended by Texas Gov. Rick Perry and other state and local officials.

Dow is one of the world’s largest plastics and chemicals makers. The firm posted sales of almost $60 billion in 2011, up almost 12 percent vs. 2010.

News of the site selection comes less than three weeks after Dow announced it was cutting 900 jobs worldwide and closing at least four plants making expanded polystyrene foam and polyurethane feedstocks. Officials said the job cuts and closings are the result of continued weakness in the European economy.

Dow is one of several petrochemical makers that have announced North American expansion plans because of newfound supplies of natural gas. In February, Formosa Plastics Corp. USA announced it would spend almost $2 billion to expand its plastics and petrochemicals site in Point Comfort, Texas.

Shell Oil Co. also will build a new cracker in western Pennsylvania – near the Marcellus Shale gas deposits – while Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. will build one in the U.S. Gulf Coast. Westlake Chemical Corp. and Nova Chemicals Corp. also will expand ethylene capacity at existing locations in the Gulf Coast and in western Canada. The Nova, Chevron Phillips and Formosa projects also include new PE capacity.


Comments

Dow Chemical picks Freeport, Texas, for new ethylene cracker

By Frank Esposito
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: April 19, 2012 6:00 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

HRS adding more North American production for hot runners

April 22, 2014 12:57 pm ET

An Italian tooling component supplier is set to open a new production plant in Grand Rapids, Mich. The HRS Flow Division of San Polo di Piace-...    More

Two Eastman buildings among 10 biggest energy savers in national contest

April 22, 2014 11:35 am ET

Two offices at the headquarters of Eastman Chemical Co. in Kingsport, Tenn., ranked in the Top 10 for energy efficiency in the latest Energy Star...    More

Image

Material Insights: Shell Chemical meets with residents

April 21, 2014 2:16 pm ET

Power outage at a PE plant and the return of a PVC feedstock plant after a fire on this week's Material Insights.    More

DuPont: Asia's food packaging market at a major transition point

April 21, 2014 1:26 pm ET

DuPont Co. touted its packaging innovations and applications, and updated the firm's commercial status at a media event two days before the Chinaplas ...    More

Officials warn China's PVC overcapacity will only get worse

April 21, 2014 3:47 pm ET

Despite worsening overcapacity, China still imports a million tons of PVC.    More

Market Reports

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook North America

This in-depth report provides analysis and discussions of economic and political conditions, market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies. In addition, there are reviews of 25 leading thermoformers in the packaging segment, assessing their growth initiatives and performance metrics over 10 years.

Learn more

Automotive Market Review and Outlook 2014 The Americas

This 75-page report features in-depth analysis of the automotive industry for the Americas. It includes discussions of market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting production and threats as well as design strategies being implemented by the major automakers. Detailed charts and data tables outline North American automotive production over the last five years.

Learn more

Plastics Building & Construction Market Review and Outlook 2014 with MS Excel chart data

This report provides in-depth analysis of the plastic building and construction market for North America, including discussions of trends, opportunities, threats and the latest developments in construction trends that impact plastics processors.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

May 6, 2014 - May 8, 2014Plastics in Medical Devices 2014

May 12, 2014 - May 12, 2014Plastics News Brazil Pharma Summit

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

February 3, 2015 - February 7, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events