ExxonMobil mulls cracker projects beyond 2025: executive

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Houston — ExxonMobil is mulling two more cracker projects beyond 2025, a top executive said this week.

“We’re starting to look more and more beyond 2025,” Jack Williams, senior vice president, said at the company’s annual analyst meeting Wednesday. “We’ve got a couple more steam crackers in mind, but they’d be out in time a bit.”

Williams did not specify where those projects might be — in the , Asia or elsewhere — and a company spokeswoman on Thursday did not respond to an inquiry about potential locations.

However, the company reaffirmed its plans to help meet expected global growth in chemical demand through 2025, with multiple projects expected to come online.

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CEO Darren Woods said chemical demand was expected to outpace GDP by about 1% through 2025, driven by population growth and improved living standards. The company expected demand for polyethylene, which makes the most sought-after plastics in the world, to rise by roughly 35% in that span as a growing global middle class increases demand for packaging and consumer goods. is used to make a wide array of plastics, from grocery bags and milk jugs to food packaging and detergent bottles.

Also through 2025, the company expected demand for polypropylene, a staple for automotive and appliance industries, to grow by about 40%, while demand for paraxylene, a feedstock for polyester fibers, increase by 35%.

ExxonMobil is among US producers building more than $200 billion in new petrochemical infrastructure along the US Gulf Coast to take advantage of cheap feedstocks unearthed by the domestic natural gas shale boom, with much of the new output targeted for export.

The company started up two new PE plants in Mont Belvieu, Texas, with a cumulative capacity of 1.3 million mt/year in 2017, followed by a new 1.5 million mt/year cracker last year at its Baytown, Texas, refining and chemical complex. In mid-2019, the company is slated to start a 650,000 mt/year PE plant at its Beaumont, Texas, complex.

ExxonMobil is also planning a new petrochemical complex with Sabic near Corpus Christi, Texas, to start up in 2022. That complex, with a 1.8 million mt/year cracker and two more PE plants with a combined capacity of 1.3 million mt/year, is awaiting a final investment decision when permits are secured, according to the company.

The company has also announced plans for a new 450,000 mt/year plant at its Baton Rouge, Louisiana, complex to start in 2021.

Elsewhere, ExxonMobil is planning a new chemical complex with a 1.2 million mt/year mixed-feed cracker in China’s Guangdong province to start up in 2023. That cracker would be able to crack crude oil, like a 1 million mt/year cracker at ExxonMobil’s chemical complex, Williams said.

The new cracker projects potentially on tap would come after these projects reach fruition before 2025, Williams said.

“So 2025 is what we’re talking about, but we’re continuing to look long term,” he said.

–Kristen Hays, kristen.hays@spglobal.com

–Edited by Pankti Mehta, pankti.mehta1@spglobal.com

Source: S&P Global Platts