ExxonMobil sees no new US cracker in its future

09 March 2011 20:17  [Source: ICIS news]

An ExxonMobil facility in TexasNEW YORK (ICIS)--US-based energy and chemical major ExxonMobil has no plans to build a cracker or make a significant expansion of petrochemical capacity in the US, said its chief executive on Wednesday.

“We will keep running full out, but we have no plans to expand capacity at this time,” said chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson at ExxonMobil’s analyst meeting at the New York Stock Exchange.

However, Tillerson acknowledged the positive impact on the US petrochemical industry of shale gas.

“NGLs [natural gas liquids] from shale gas is a significant event for the petrochemical industry in the US. It wasn’t that long ago that we were all anticipating US ethane to be short, causing plants to shut down or retool for heavier feeds,” said Tillerson.

“For us, this is a positive as we have more feedstock flexibility than our competitors to take advantage of the [lower priced] ethane,” he added.

Worldwide, ethane comprises over 50% of ExxonMobil’s ethylene feedstock versus around 30% for the overall chemical industry, according to the company.

Cheaper natural gas-based ethane has provided a boon for US petrochemical producers, which primarily use ethane as a feedstock versus their counterparts in Europe and Asia, which mostly use oil-based naphtha feedstock.

In 2010, ExxonMobil’s chemical business posted a record $4.9bn (€3.5bn) in earnings - up from $2.6bn in 2009.

From 2000-2010, the return on average capital employed on its chemical business was 19% - better than 2.5 times its competitor average, noted Tillerson.

“The competition is not even close,” he said.

($1 = €0.72)

Paul Hodges studies key influencers shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

Author: Joe Chang

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