Westlake Chemical Corp. will add 250 million pounds of annual ethane-based ethylene capacity as part of a $330 million expansion project in Lake Charles, La.
The project will include other capital improvements and will create 25 permanent jobs as well as 1,000 temporary construction jobs, officials with Houston-based Westlake said in an Oct. 23 news release.
President and CEO Albert Chao said in the release that Westlake “has enjoyed a long and rewarding relationship” with Louisiana since opening the Lake Charles location in 1986. “Our Louisiana operations are a vital hub for the enterprise, and we look forward to a continued beneficial partnership in the future,” he added.
In a separate Oct. 23 release, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said that the project “will continue this region's economic growth and create great chemical industry careers for our people.” State officials added in the release that the new jobs created by the expansion will have an annual payroll of $2 million, plus benefits.
Westlake will receive a five-year, $2.5 million tax credit for the expansion and also is expected to take part in the state's Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs. The expansion should be completed in late 2015 or early 2016.
In addition to ethylene, Westlake also makes polyethylene resin and styrene monomer in Lake Charles, where it has 480 employees and 115 contractors. Westlake and other North American petrochemicals firms have benefited from newfound supplies of low-priced natural gas feedstock throughout the region.
Westlake generated record operating profit of almost $267 million in the second quarter of 2014. The firm's first-half sales rose 12 percent to $2.03 billion, while profit for the six months surged almost 22 percent to $327.5 million.
On a split-adjusted basis, Westlake's per-share stock price began the year around $60 and peaked near $98 in early September before falling as part of a broad-based market selloff. The price closed near $76 on Oct. 23.