Exxon expanding Beaumont plastics plant, adding jobs

Exxon Mobil's Beaumont refinery (Jake Daniels/The Enterprise)
Exxon Mobil’s Beaumont refinery (Jake Daniels/The Enterprise)

ExxonMobil is expanding its Beaumont polyethylene chemical plant, adding a new unit and increasing the facility’s capacity by 65 percent, the company announced on Monday. It estimated the work will create 1,400 construction jobs and 40 permanent positions.

A growing demand for high performance plastics plus an abundant supply of cheap U.S. shale gas, the feedstock for plastics, is motivating the expansion, Exxon said.

The company manufactures polyethylene products for packaging applications that deliver light-weight, damage-resistant films.

Expansion has already started. The new unit will begin operations in 2019. Exxon estimates it will generate $20 billion in economic activity in the first 13 years of operation.

Current polyethylene production capacity is 1 million metric tons per year. The new unit will add another 650,000.

“The availability of vast new supplies of U.S. shale gas and associated liquids for feedstock and energy is a significant advantage that enables expansion to meet strong global demand growth in polyethylene,” Cindy Shulman, vice president of ExxonMobil’s plastics and resins business, said in a statement.

The plant expansion is ExxonMobil’s third significant investment in the Beaumont area in 18 months, the company said.