If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.



Enterprise mulls $5 billion US ethylene cracker

The Gulf Coast project would be a further step downstream for the energy services firm

by Alexander H. Tullo
June 25, 2022 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 100, Issue 23


An ethane carrier at port.
Credit: American Shipping Bureau
Enterprise operates an ethane terminal on the Houston Ship Channel.

In a sign that oil and gas logistic firms are plunging deeper into the chemical business, Enterprise Products has disclosed that it is considering building a $5 billion ethylene cracker on the US Gulf Coast.

The disclosure came by way of an application, which Enterprise submitted in April, to the Beaumont Independent School District for a tax break on property along the Neches River in Beaumont, Texas. The plant would be based on ethane feedstock and have annual capacity of 2 million metric tons (t) of ethylene, making it a relatively large cracker. The document doesn’t specify whether downstream plants, such as polyethylene units, are part of the project.

Enterprise operates an ethane pipeline and storage system on the Gulf Coast, as well the Morgan’s Point ethane export terminal, on the Houston Ship Channel.

The company is already involved in chemicals. At the end of 2020, it opened an ethylene export terminal at Morgan’s Point. It built a propane dehydrogenation facility with annual capacity of 750,000 t of propylene in Mont Belvieu, Texas, in 2018, and is planning another such facility there for 2023. Enterprise completed a butane dehydrogenation plant in 2019.

Tom Long, co-CEO of Energy Transfer, another big oil and gas logistic company, said in a May conference call with investors that his firm is evaluating its own cracker project to produce ethylene and propylene. “We believe that our cracker will be a very unique, world-class facility, providing unparalleled access to the lowest-cost feedstock through our pipeline systems,” Long said.

And the engineering firm KBR said in March that it had secured a contract to provide technology for a Gulf Coast olefin project to a “leading midstream company,” which could describe Enterprise or Energy Transfer. But the announcement outlined a project that seems closer to the latter’s plan. KBR described it as having 2.4 million t per year of light olefin capacity and as being based on a KBR catalytic technology that converts hydrocarbons with 4–10 carbons into ethylene, propylene, and aromatics.



This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.