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French Company To Invest $1.7 Billion In Texas Petrochemical Plants

The company will partner with others in Europe and Canada to expand projects in Port Arthur, TX and near La Porte, TX.


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A view of petrochemical and refining facilities near Houston, TX.

A global energy company is planning to grow its presence on the Texas coast. The company, France-based Total, announced Monday a $1.7 billion plan that includes petrochemical projects near Houston.

Total says it’s teaming up with other companies from Europe and Canada for a new plant at its existing Port Arthur facility. It will include a new "ethane cracker" that breaks apart the molecules of the natural gas liquid to form ethylene, a chemical used to make plastics. The company is also planning to build a new plastics plant alongside one it already owns near La Porte.

"We're adding one million tons of ethylene capacity and another 625,000 tons of polyethylene,” says Ghazi Shahin, the company’s Vice President for Industrial in the Americas. He says the growth is thanks to low ethane prices.

"This is the right time to continue to take advantage of the shale gas revolution, if you will."

The petrochemical sector is expanding nationwide. In a report released this month, the industry trade group American Chemistry Council says there have been more than $161 billion pumped into U.S. chemical projects since 2010. Most of those projects are expected to come online this year or next. Environmental groups have criticized other chemical plants in the Texas coast region for releasing potentially dangerous air pollutants, and they've argued state and federal regulators don't do enough to keep them in check.

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