Seeking to capitalize on low-cost natural gas feedstocks derived from shale, Total is considering building an ethylene cracker in Port Arthur, Texas. Patrick Pouyanné, president of refining and chemicals at the French oil giant, says the cracker would be integrated with an ethylene joint venture with BASF at the site. That venture, BASF Total Petrochemicals, was recently upgraded so it can process natural gas feedstocks. The partners opened the huge 1 million-metric-ton-per-year ethylene plant in 2001. Natural gas prices were high at the time, so they designed it to crack only oil-based naphtha feedstocks. The plant can now produce up to 40% of its ethylene from ethane and 40% from propane and butane. Additionally, the partners are installing a furnace at the facility that will boost capacity by 15% next year.