ExxonMobil LAO Project Pushed Back

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ExxonMobil’s entry into the linear alpha olefin market has been delayed as a large expansion of the company’s Baytown, Texas, petrochemical complex is now scheduled to be completed in 2023 rather than next year.

Worley, the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the project, posted an update on its website in late November announcing the start of the construction phase. The statement said new units are expected to begin operating in 2023.

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ExxonMobil has previously said that new units would start up in 2022. None of the statements have specified the month of target dates. Neither company responded to questions by deadline.

First announced in May of 2019, the $2.1 billion project is designed to include two units – one with capacity to make 350,000 metric tons per year of linear alpha olefins, the other to produce 400,000 t/y of performance polymers.

LAOs are used to make polyalphaolefin base stocks as well as a number of other applications such as plastic packaging and precursors for surfactants. ExxonMobil is the world’s largest PAO producer but currently is not vertically integrated to produce LAOs, as are some of its PAO competitors, such as Ineos and Chevron Phillips Chemical.

Worley’s statement did not allude to a delay of the Baytown project or provide a reason for the change. Some industrial capital projects have been delayed by impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.