A sudden flood of plans for new petrochemical plants has teed up a potential U.S. ethylene production boom. A total of ten proposed “cracker” plants are now on the drawing boards, including eight on the Gulf Coast and two in the Northeast.
The petrochemical production boom has been spawned by the availability of cheap domestic natural gas — a consequence of the fracking bonanza that now has world manufacturers eyeing the U.S. for new projects. Seven of the proposed plants are beyond the feasibility stage, and six companies have announced expected capacity figures for seven of them including those from Chevron Phillips, ExxonMobil, Dow, Sasol, Formosa Plastics – Louisiana, and Occidental/Mexichem. The bulk of the new output is expected to be polyethylene.