The Performance Products division of Huntsman Corporation held a groundbreaking event Oct. 22 to mark the expansion of its ethylene oxide (EO) manufacturing capacity at the Port Neches facility that will become the largest manufacturer in the country of that critical industrial substance.
Peter Huntsman, president and CEO of Huntsman Corporation, said while the company could have constructed the facility anywhere in the United States – or the world, for that matter – their decision to build here was a testament to the quality workforce in Southeast Texas, referring to students currently in local schools who will be the Huntsman workers of the future. He also noted the many city and county officials who turned out for the groundbreaking of the $150 million project and said that in a very real sense, these governmental entities are partnering with Huntsman to ensure continuing prosperity for the public. Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick spoke to the gathering and reaffirmed that partnership. In fact, Branick has played a direct role in negotiating many of the expansion deals in the oil and gas sector here in recent years.
This expansion will add a third EO unit to Huntsman’s Port Neches facility, increasing EO capacity by more than 25 percent, or 265 million pounds per year. With an existing EO production capacity of one billion pounds annually, Huntsman is currently the second largest EO producer in the United States. Upon completion of the expansion, Huntsman’s Port Neches plant will be the largest single-site producer of EO in North America. EO is a key raw material in the production of surfactants, ethanolamines, polyether amines and other specialty amines, ethylene carbonate, ethylene glycols and polyols used in a variety of industries from agriculture to personal care.
“This expansion solidifies Huntsman’s position as one of the largest producers of ethylene oxide in North America,” said Stu Monteith, president of Huntsman Performance Products. “This additional EO capacity will benefit our customers through increased security of supply from a well-located, cost-competitive Huntsman manufacturing plant. It also ensures that we’ll stay ahead of our customers’ increasing demand for EO, and that we can easily support their growth.”
The expansion project is expected to add 325 local contractor jobs during the construction phase. Upon completion, this project is expected to add 10 full-time positions to Huntsman’s staff and an additional five to 10 contractor positions located on site. The EO unit is currently slated for start-up in the second quarter of 2015.
Huntsman purchased an ethylene oxide unit from the Beaumont-based company PD Glycol after the unit was flooded during Hurricane Ike in 2008. After performing extensive engineering assessments and environmental, health and safety due diligence, Huntsman dismantled the unit and transported the components down the Neches River by barge for installation at its Port Neches facility. The acquisition enables Huntsman to expand its EO capacity quickly and cost effectively, compared to a traditional “greenfield” approach.
Huntsman Corporation is a publicly traded global manufacturer and marketer of differentiated chemicals, with 2012 revenues of more than $11 billion. Its chemical products number in the thousands and are sold worldwide to manufacturers serving a broad and diverse range of consumer and industrial end markets. Huntsman operates more than 75 manufacturing and R&D facilities in more than 30 countries and employs approximately 12,000 associates.