Frequent Questions

Please see our fact sheet for a project overview.  Click the questions below for additional project information.


 

Ethane Cracker Project

What is ethane cracking?
Ethane cracking involves heating ethane until it breaks down (“cracks”) to form a mixture of ethylene and small amounts of other gases. It is then distilled further in a series of processes to create pure ethylene.
What will the facility produce?
If constructed, the facility will include an ethane steam cracker and three derivative units. The cracker will produce ethylene, which will feed the three derivative units. One unit would produce monoethylene glycol, which is used in latex paints, automotive coolants and anti-freeze, or as a building block to create polyester for the manufacture of clothing and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) for beverage bottles and containers. Additionally, two polyethylene units, would provide polyethylene for use in film, packaging, bottles and containers, and various sized pipes.
How big will the facility be?
If the project proceeds, the facility would include a steam cracker capable of producing 1.8 million tonnes per year of ethylene - the largest capacity of any steam cracker built to date - and three derivative units. The proposed site is about 1,300 acres. The actual operating facilities would be located on about 200 acres in the center of the site, which will allow for a buffer zone between the operating facilities and the surrounding community.
Where will the project acquire the feedstock for the facility?
The feedstock for the facility would be ethane, which is a product of oil and gas production. The ethane would be sourced primarily from Texas-produced natural gas.
When do you expect to make a final investment decision?
ExxonMobil and SABIC are still early in the process and cannot speculate on timelines. Once permits are received, ExxonMobil and SABIC would each be in a position to make a final investment decision on whether to move forward.
Where will the facility be located?
ExxonMobil and SABIC have submitted permit applications to build the proposed project in San Patricio County. This location provides access to locally available, abundant natural gas feedstocks as well as required infrastructure.

Economic Benefits

What’s the total project investment?
This would be a multibillion dollar project. It is premature to speculate on final costs until detailed design is completed and the value of construction contracts is available.
What is the overall timeline?
The project has submitted permit applications to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The permitting process can take around one year to complete. During that process, there will be some site preparation work, but full construction cannot start until the permit is awarded. At that time, ExxonMobil and SABIC would each make a final investment decision on whether to move forward. The plant could be operational as early as 2021-2022.
How many jobs would the complex create?
The project we envision, if it moves forward, is expected to create more than 600 new, permanent jobs and about 3,500 indirect and induced jobs during operations. It is also expected to generate up to 6,000 construction jobs during the peak of the construction phase. For more information, see our Local Hiring page.
I have heard different numbers regarding the number of direct jobs the project would create. Please explain.
The project is expected to create 600 direct jobs at the facility.  The local agreements we are pursuing have specific minimum direct job requirements to which we must commit under the agreements, and, as a result, there may be differences in the projected job numbers.  But again, the project is expected to create 600 direct jobs.
What will you do to develop the workforce you’ll need for this project?
The Gulf Coast Growth Ventures project expects to create over 600 new permanent jobs with good salaries and benefits. These are important jobs that have high skill requirements. The project is committed to developing a pathway for the local workforce to gain the skills and experience required for these positions. We are pursuing opportunities to work with local community colleges, high schools and other institutions to develop and enhance existing workforce training programs. As an example, ExxonMobil in Baytown has worked with Lee College in since 1934. ExxonMobil provides instructors, technical support, materials, internships and scholarships. The program has expanded to seven community college in the Houston region. ExxonMobil and SABIC will be looking to establish similar relationships for the proposed Gulf Coast Growth Ventures project. At the high school level, ExxonMobil and SABIC invest in STEM education. We bring engineers and operators into the classroom, participate in career days and recruit local graduates. During construction, the project’s major construction contractors will be focused on sourcing construction trades from the local area, providing continued employment for local construction workers. For more information, see our Local Hiring page.
Will the plant have a minimum experience requirement?
There will not be a minimum experience requirement for this project, but again, these are important, good paying jobs that have certain skill requirements and standards. Because this will be a new facility, with high levels of expertise and experience needed at the outset, the project would likely bring in a core set of experienced employees from other company facilities. The project anticipates that the majority of the remaining employees are likely to be local hires. The project will have about five years to hire and train its workforce. We anticipate that we will hire early, send the new hires to other company facilities to gain experience, and then move them back to the new facility when it becomes operational.
Do you offer an internship program?
The project is committed to developing a pathway for the local workforce to gain experience. We will work with local community colleges and high schools to identify and train potential workers.

Construction Phase

When will construction begin?
The project has submitted permit applications to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The permitting process can take around one year to complete. During that process, there will be some site preparation work, but full construction cannot start until the permit is awarded. At that time, ExxonMobil and SABIC would each make a final investment decision on whether to move forward. The plant could be operational as early as 2021-2022.
How long will it take to build the facility?
GCGV submitted applications for air and wastewater permits from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The permitting process can take around one year to complete. During that process, there will be some site preparation work, but full construction cannot start until the permit is awarded. At that time, ExxonMobil and SABIC would each make a final investment decision on whether to move forward. The plant could be operational in 2021-2022.

Permitting

What kinds of safety measures will be put in place at the facility?
ExxonMobil and SABIC bring significant expertise to this potential project, having worked together in petrochemical ventures for more than 35 years. Safety is a top priority for both companies, who have excellent safety records and will employ proven, advanced safety measures in the facility design. Both companies have earned recognition for their safety results. For more information, see our Environment page.
What regulatory approvals are required to build this facility?
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is charged with protecting human health and the environment and will review the project to ensure environmental, health and safety risks are addressed. Permits to build will only be issued if the facility design meets environmental and health requirements established by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. These agencies ensure that any project meets health and safety standards established to protect the public and the environment. For more information, see our Environment page.
What are the heights of the facility’s tallest structures?
The tallest structure in the facility, the furnaces, would be about 230 feet tall.  The tallest tower will be about 215 feet and the elevated flare would be around 200 feet.  For reference, wind turbines are around 400 feet tall. For more information, see our Viewscapes page.
Which materials will be handled at the facility?
Ethane, the feedstock for the facility, would be heated (“cracked”) to form a mixture of ethylene and other gases. The mixture is then distilled further in a series of processes to create pure ethylene. The ethylene would then be transferred to derivative units, which produce polyethylene and mono ethylene glycol. During the permitting phase, we will be working with state regulatory agencies to ensure operations and emissions are protective of public health, safety and the environment. The project must also model its air emissions to demonstrate compliance with National Ambient Air Quality Standards and to ensure emissions are safe for human health and the environment by satisfying state modeling programs. Significant investment is being made in best available environmental control technologies. Ongoing monitoring is planned for the site once it becomes operational, including continuous emissions monitoring systems, rigorous leak detection and repair monitoring, and fence line monitoring. For more information, see our Environment page.
Which materials would your flare burn?
During the permitting phase, we will be working with state regulatory agencies to ensure our flare emissions are protective of public health and the environment. The project will create detailed emission rates and compositions as part of its permit development, and the information will be presented in the permit application. For more information, see our Environment page.
When will the public have a chance to weigh in on the project?
The environmental permitting process provides opportunities for public input. These opportunities will be publicized prior to their occurrence.
When can the community provide input and ask questions?
The project has conducted more than 80 meetings with local residents, community groups and organizations. We are listening to local residents and are committed to continuing the dialogue throughout the permitting process. Please contact us via the Contact Us form on this website, by emailing info@gulfcoastgv.com or by visiting us at our project office, located at 1512 Wildcat Drive, Suite B in Portland. In addition, the environmental permitting process will provide opportunities for public input. These opportunities will be publicized prior to their occurrence.
How will you minimize noise and light impacts?
ExxonMobil and SABIC have worked together in petrochemical ventures for more than 35 years. Being a good neighbor is a priority for both companies. The project team will design the plant with measures to minimize noise and light, such as insulation and housing compressors inside buildings. Additionally, we will use berms, landscaping, buildings and foliage to absorb or block light and sound. For more information, see our Viewscapes page.
How will you minimize traffic impacts?
The project will work closely with state and local agencies to identify challenges and develop ways to address them. For ExxonMobil’s project in Baytown, the company conducted traffic studies and worked with the city of Baytown to address identified traffic issues. For more information, see our Traffic page.
How many rail cars will be used at the plant?
We anticipate that as the project progresses, we will have more detail on facility design and transportation modalities and schedules. If it proceeds, the project will work with the community, local authorities and the appropriate regulatory agencies to address potential traffic or transportation impacts.
If this goes through, what do you expect to happen to property values for the near neighbors?
ExxonMobil and SABIC are committed to being good neighbors. In our experience, property values are not negatively impacted when a manufacturing facility is built. In some cases, property values increase, as those who work at the facility look to locate nearby. We are still early in the permitting process; however, if the project does move forward, we plan to implement a voluntary price protection program for neighbors in the immediate vicinity.