“It is a real exciting time for our company,” according to ExxonMobil Corpus Christi Operations Manager John Mabry.

Now under construction, ExxonMobil’s current project, a plastics manufacturing facility located in the burgeoning Corpus Christi, Texas, vicinity of the Gulf Coast, is already stacking up some very attractive numbers for the petrochemical industry.

ExxonMobil’s Corpus Christi project is just one of those 11 facilities that comprise the ambitious, “$20-some-odd billion,” 10-year Grow the Gulf campaign currently underway across Texas and Louisiana, Mabry explained.

The Corpus Christi project is not just an ethylene plant. It is a $10 billion project that, upon completion, will be the largest in the world.

“It’s 1.8 million tons per annum — 30-percent larger than the one we just built in Baytown on the North American Growth Project,” Mabry said, speaking on a panel at the Gulf Coast Industry Forum held recently in Pasadena, Texas.

“It is more than an ethylene plant,” Mabry continued. “It’s an ethylene plant and three derivative units: two polyethylene lines and a monoethlyene glycol line, and all the infrastructure and logistics that go along with that.”

Though the project is a 50/50 financial joint venture with SABIC, ExxonMobil is the operator of the facility, and “all the employees are going to be employed by ExxonMobil,” Mabry clarified.

Most of the plant’s polyethylene product will be exported into developing regions, “where people are literally coming out of the rural areas into the more developed cities, and they need goods — packaged goods — to improve their quality of life,” Mabry said. “That’s what our marketing research is telling us: where the plays are.”

Mabry described that play as part of the region’s natural gas shale revolution.

“It’s an ethane cracker, so we will be getting our feedstock … from Eagle Ford shale and the Permian Basin,” Mabry said. “We’re building pipelines to get that material to our plant.”

Training has begun

Though commonly referred to as the Corpus Christi project, the facility’s precise location is north of Corpus Christi, on the other side of the bay, in the Gregory and Portland communities. The plot covers approximately 1,300 acres.

“That’s a big plot of land,” Mabry said. “The actual operating facility is only on about 300 acres of that, so we have a big greenfield area to work with.”

Mabry estimates the plant will bring 600 permanent positions to the area, accompanied by a workforce of about 6,000 during the peak construction period.

“We estimate another 3,500 indirect or induced jobs will come out of this venture,” Mabry said. “That’s all the suppliers and support services that we need to run a venture of this magnitude. And we expect about $50 billion in economic stimulus over the first six years of the life of this project.” While the venture is still in its early days, Mabry said contracts have already been awarded to engineering, procurement and construction entities, “and they are busily working on those details.”

Meanwhile, the air permitting process is in the works.

“We expect to get that in early to mid- 2019,” Mabry said. “While that is in progress, we are preparing the site for the construction activity that’s to come. And we are already starting to hire people to train them and putting them into our existing facilities to get them ready to operate the Corpus plant.”

Mabry anticipates start-up at the end of 2021.

“Again, it’s just a real exciting time for this particular project,” Mabry concluded. For ongoing industry updates, visit BICMagazine.com.