FREEPORT, Texas—DowDuPont Inc. started production on a specialty polyethylene resin unit and on a new ethylene unit in Freeport.
The new unit will have annual production of almost 900 million pounds of Elite-brand enhanced PE and more than 3 billion pounds of new ethylene. More than 1 billion pounds of ethylene capacity are expected to be added to that unit, which officials said will make it the world's single largest ethylene site.
The startup was unaffected by Hurricane Harvey, which hit the Texas coast on Aug. 25, Diego Donoso, DowDuPont Inc.'s packaging and specialty plastics business president, told Plastics News in a Sept. 21 phone interview.
"Our team was very brave and they stayed safe," he said. "They did a phenomenal job, even with construction issues. We're very happy with the result."
The units were physically completed in June. They'll continue to ramp up through the third quarter and are expected to reach full rates in the fourth quarter of 2017.
Dow and several other firms are adding PE and ethylene capacity in the region because of newfound supplies of affordable natural gas feedstock. Dow is investing a total of $6 billion in its U.S. Gulf Coast projects.
In a news release, Andrew Liveris, DowDuPont's executive chairman, described the startup as "a monumental moment … as we advance our global growth strategy by fully deploying our unmatched molecular and physical integration."
Jim Fitterling, chief operating officer of DowDuPont Materials Science, added that the new ethylene unit "provides a solid, capital-efficient base in this attractive, feedstock-advantaged region."
Officials added that in addition to supporting Dow's near-term capacity additions, the ethylene facility also will support further planned debottlenecks to unlock additional PE capacity.