Total considering $1.7 billion ethanol cracker in Port Arthur, Texas

Port Arthur refinery, Texas
Source: WikiCommons, author: Roy Luck

Total Petrochemical is considering building a $1.7 billion standalone petrochemical plant at its Port Arthur facility in Texas. Construction of the cracker could start in June 2016, the company said, with operations starting three years later. The project that would include seven ethane-cracking heaters is subject to permission from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).

The company spokesperson, Tricia Fuller, explained that the decision regarding the new plant has not been taken yet, and the fact that the company has already filed for state permits is a part of the company’s process of evaluating the potential for expansion.

“It is something that’s under consideration,” Fuller said. “Given the length of the time of the permitting process, we elected to file some applications and begin some work toward Port Arthur as a potential (location) for an ethane cracker.”

The new ethylene cracker would be an addition to the currently operating refinery, jointly owned by Total Petrochemical and BASF Corporation. Should Total decide to move forward with the project, it would create 3,500 construction jobs and 45 full-time jobs at the company’s Port Arthur complex, which already employs 250 workers.

Fred Jackson, assistant to County Judge Jeff Branick, told Beaumont Enterprise that the two companies are still in the process of discussing the details of a tax abatement plan with county officials. Once the two sides reach an agreement, with the amount of tax breaks offered largely based on overall investment and full-time job creation, county commissioners will hold a public hearing and vote, Jackson said.

Total’s new plant is among fourteen new ethane crackers planned in the US and Mexico – seven of which are under construction, with additional seven having been proposed.

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