It’s good news for Texas mineral and royalty owners that oil and gas production in Texas is increasing, due in large part to the spike in natural gas production from shale reservoirs. It’s also good news that plants that use that gas are being built.
For example, ExxonMobil Corporation is expanding its capacities on the Gulf of Mexico coast after EPA’s finalization of their permit on May 14, 2014. In Baytown, Texas, Exxon has begun work on a multibillion dollar expansion of their refining and petrochemical infrastructure to process shale-derived natural gas into plastics and other products. They plan to construct something called an ethane cracker, which is a facility in which complex organic molecules such as kerogens or heavy hydrocarbons are broken down into simpler molecules such as light hydrocarbons. The cracker will be able to process 1.5 million tons of gas per year and make ethylene stocks available for downstream chemical processing. The downstream facilities include an Exxon plastic plant in Mont Belvieu, Texas which processes 650,000 tons per year in two high performance polyethylene facilities. Ethylene is processed into polyethylene, which is a basic plastic that is used to make bags, bottles and other products.
In Mont Belvieu, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is going to build the two polyethylene facilities. The Baytown olefins plant has also awarded contracts to Linde Engineering North America Inc. and Bechtel Oil, Gas & Chemicals Inc. to build olefin recovery units. Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. and Huertey Petrochem SA are building the olefin furnaces.
Construction will begin immediately and production is expected to commence in 2017, according to a statement by Exxon. Steve Pryor, head of ExxonMobil Chemical Co., said, “Shale development has provided U.S. chemical producers a double benefit as an energy source and as a key raw material to make plastics and other essential products, creating jobs and economic activity across the value chain.”
When there is an increased market for gas produced in Texas such as the Exxon plants described above, the incentive for oil and gas companies to continue to explore, drill for and produce gas increases. That in turn means more royalty payments and higher income to Texas mineral owners and royalty owners.
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