The polyethylene wave of 2017 continues to roll, as Dow Chemical Co. has completed construction of a new PE resin unit in Freeport, Texas.
The new unit will have annual production of almost 900 million pounds of Elite-brand enhanced PE. It's expected to begin ramping up production in the third quarter and be fully operational in the fourth quarter, in line with the startup of a massive new ethylene monomer unit in Freeport, officials with Midland, Mich.-based Dow said in a June 6 news release.
Dow's Elite PE resins are used in multiple types of flexible packaging applications for food, personal hygiene products and industrial packaging. Officials said the project was completed on time and is the first of four derivative projects under way at Dow sites in Texas and Louisiana.
Dow and several other firms are adding PE and ethylene capacity in the region because of newfound supplies of affordable natural gas feedstock. Dow is investing a total of $6 billion in its U.S. Gulf Coast projects.
"This milestone further reflects the steady progress our teams are making to bring these multi-phased investments online to enhance our cost-advantaged integration and industry-leading innovation," Dow President and Chief Operating Officer Jim Fitterling said in the release.
Packaging and Specialty Plastics President Diego Donoso added that the mechanical completion of the new PE unit "is yet another milestone that brings [Dow] closer to having more volume to meet growing customer demand globally."
Dow's other three derivative units along with a planned debottleneck are proceeding on schedule and are staged to come online throughout 2017 and 2018. Those projects include:
• Almost 800 million pounds of new specialty low density PE for industrial and supply chain packaging applications by the end of the year
• 440 million pounds of capacity for Next Generation Nordel-brand metallocene EPDM for higher-margin applications in transportation, infrastructure and consumer durables end-markets in early 2018
• 275 million pounds of bi-modal gas phase PE via a debottlenecking to produce more material for high-performance pipe and fitting applications, as well as caps and closures sometime in 2018
• 700 million pounds of high melt index polyolefin elastomers for high-performance flexible packaging, transportation and consumer markets in late 2018
Dow is in the process of merging with DuPont Co. of Wilmington, Del., another major player in global plastics and chemicals markets. The two firms had combined sales of more than $72 billion in 2016. The merger is expected to be completed in August.