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Exxon eyes Baton Rouge for more expansion, reports suggest

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BATON ROUGE – ExxonMobil is announcing growth almost as fast as it manufactures oil and chemicals – revealing Tuesday morning it is planning a new specialized plastics facility somewhere on the Gulf Coast.

And, it could be in Baton Rouge.

“ExxonMobil is well positioned to take advantage of the growing global demand for higher-value products, in both North America and the high-growth Asia Pacific region,” John Verity, president of ExxonMobil Chemical Company, said in a statement about the plans Tuesday. “Abundant supplies of domestically produced oil and natural gas have reduced energy costs and created new sources of feedstock for U.S. chemical manufacturing. Most of our planned investment in the Gulf Coast region is focused on supplying emerging markets like Asia with high-demand products, which ultimately will spur new economic growth locally.”

ExxonMobil said it has started engineering work on a potential Gulf Coast project to expand polypropylene manufacturing capacity by up to 450,000 tons a year. A final decision on the investment, anticipated to be several hundred million dollars, is expected later this year. Facility startup could come as early as 2021, the company said in a news release.

How is Baton Rouge tied up in this? At a meeting Monday on tax exemptions for the city's largest companies and employers, ExxonMobil's local chief insinuated there are big plans for the operation in Baton Rouge.

“I had the good fortune in 2000 to build a plant here,” Charles Dabadie, the company’s area manager, told The Advocate.

“I want to build another [plant],” he said.

The Business Report quoted Dabadie being even more specific: [It would be] a big project, 152 feet tall out of the ground… We want it to come here.”

The latest project is one of 13 new facilities planned to grow ExxonMobil’s chemical manufacturing capacity in North America and Asia Pacific by about 40 percent. In February, the company announced it will invest more than $50 billion over the next five years to expand its business in the U.S. because of savings from changes to the U.S. tax code.

Then, local corporate officials highlighted expansion from 2017: "Baton Rouge capital project investments in 2017 totaled approximately $340 million and included projects at all five of our local facilities. We are experiencing a window of increased capital investment opportunity. With the low cost of natural gas in the US and the growing demand for plastics and polymers across the world, we are investing more in new projects along the Gulf Coast, which includes Louisiana," Stephanie Cargile, Public and Government Affairs Manager of ExxonMobil told WBRZ.

Tuesday's announcement about the plastics operation to be added along the Gulf Coast has the potential to create more than 600 jobs during peak construction and more than 60 permanent jobs when production starts, the company said.


Follow the publisher of this post on Twitter: @treyschmaltz


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