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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 17, 2022

An ethane transfer terminal.
Credit: Enterprise Products
Enterprise opened an ethylene terminal on the Houston Ship Channel in 2020.

In a sign that oil and gas logistics 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 2 million metric tons (t) of annual ethylene capacity, making it a relatively large cracker. The disclosure 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. It also operates the Morgan’s Point ethane export terminal on the Houston Ship Channel.

The company has already started getting 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 750,000 t of annual propylene capacity in Mont Belvieu, Texas, in 2018, and is planning another such facility for 2023. Enterprise completed a butane dehydrogenation plant in 2019.

Tom Long, CEO of another big oil and gas logistics company, Energy Transfer, disclosed in a conference call with investors in May that his firm is evaluating its own cracker project that would 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,” he said.

In March, the engineering firm KBR said it 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 Energy Transfer plan. KBR described it as having 2.4 million t of light olefin capacity. Also, it would be based on a KBR catalytic technology that converts hydrocarbons with 4–10 carbons into ethylene, propylene, and aromatics.



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