Formosa Plastics Begins Major Expansion
April 30, 2012
Formosa Plastics Corp. has begun work on a $1.7 billion expansion of its chemical complex which is served by the Port of Port Lavaca-Point Comfort. The expansion is expected to be in operation in 2016.
The expansion will include a third olefins production facility along with a new propane dehydrogenation (PDH) unit and a new low density polyethylene (LDPE) resin plant.
Olefins cracking units use petroleum raw materials to produce ethylene and propylene gases that are used as raw materials by on-site plastics plants. The new olefins unit will take advantage of plentiful South Texas natural gas supplies that are being developed in the Eagle Ford Shale.
In announcing the major investment Formosa said it will increase the flexibility of the company's raw and intermediate material supplies along with enhancing reliability and broadening the product line.
FPC began operation of a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plant at the 1,600-acre site in 1983. A major expansion was completed in 1994 including the first Olefins plant, a polypropylene plant, a high density polyethylene plant, cogeneration and rail facilities. The Olefins II expansion added a second layer of plastic resins plants and was completed in 2002.
The olefins cracker will supply feedstock both to existing production units and the new LDPE unit. The PDH unit will produce additional propylene and enhance overall operational flexibility.
"This is the third major expansion at the Point Comfort site; it sends a clear signal of our dedication to substantial investment and job creation," said C. L. Tseng, FPC executive vice president.
Randy Smith, FPC general manager, anticipates peak construction employment of 1,800 and the addition of 225 long-term operating and maintenance jobs. Formosa has a current workforce of approximately 2,200.
In January Formosa announced plans to build a $150 million hydrocarbon fractionator at Point Comfort to process natural gas liquids. Fractionation plants produce ethane, propane and butanes.