The world's largest publicly traded energy company Exxon Mobil Corp, plans to build a multi-billion dollar chemical plant at its Baytown complex in Texas to take advantage of cheap North American shale gas, according to a U.S. environmental filing as reported by Reuters. The plant is planned with a capacity of 1.5 mln tpa ethylene, subject to approvals. The plant is estimated to come online by 2016 at the earliest. With this, Exxon Mobil's chemical production capacity will receive a great impetus, helping it compete more effectively with rival Dow Chemical Co. In 2010, Exxon Mobil acquired XTO Energy Inc. Since then, Exxon has been North America's largest producer of natural gas, which it now plans to use for captive consumption. This will provide an advantage by way of reduced costs over Dow that does not drill. U.S. natural gas prices have dropped more than 20% so far this year. The ethylene will be piped to the company's nearby Mont Belvieu complex, where it will be used in two planned polyethylene production facilities, each expected to have capacity of 650,000 tpa.
This decision ensues recent announcements by Dow, Royal Dutch Shell Plc , LyondellBasell and others to expand their US chemical production.