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ExxonMobil, SABIC's new Texas petrochemical complex online: sources

Highlights

Includes world's second-largest cracker, world's largest MEG unit

Startup comes earlier than originally planned

ExxonMobil and SABIC's new joint-venture petrochemical complex in Texas is operational, according to multiple sources familiar with company operations.

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All of the major units -- a cracker, two polyethylene units and a monoethylene glycol plant -- "are up and running," one of the sources said.

The companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Market participants have been watching the commissioning and startup processes for the complex near Corpus Christi, Texas, which includes the world's second-largest cracker at 1.8 million mt/year and the world's largest MEG unit at 1.1 million mt/year.

The complex also has two liner low density PE plants, each with capacity of 650,000 mt/year. The joint venture also includes a marine terminal to export liquids, including MEG, propane and butane streams.

The companies announced in October 2021 that the complex would begin starting up in Q4 2021, earlier than originally planned.

The complex was built with modules, which were transported to the site from September 2019 through June 2020, according to the companies.

That module plan allowed the companies to continue the work with fewer contractors on site, as much of the construction was done elsewhere before delivering the modules to the complex site.

Other major projects that had to slow or temporarily pause construction to impose COVID-19 safety protocols at the height of shutdowns and restrictions in the first half of 2020 include Shell Chemicals' new PE complex under construction in Pennsylvania and an expansion at one of Shintech's Louisiana polyvinyl chloride complexes.

The cracker is among more than 10 million mt/year of new ethylene capacity to come online in 2021 and beyond.

Other additions include Shell's 1.6 million mt/year cracker at its southwest Pennsylvania complex and Total's new 1 million mt/year cracker in southeast Texas.

Other ethylene projects remain in the planning phase.

The PE plants are among 9.27 million mt/year of new polyethylene capacity to come online in 2021 and beyond as well.

The cracker feeds the downstream PE and MEG units at the new Texas complex.

LLDPE is used to make plastic stretch film, industrial packaging film, electrical cable coating, food packaging and packaging for cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

MEG is an intermediate used to make polyethylene terephthalate, which is used to make plastic bottles, and polyester fiber as well as antifreeze.