Dow puts a big bet on ethylene manufacturing
‘Threshold of an American manufacturing resurgence’ tied to natural gas growth
The Dow Chemical Company will construct a new world-scale ethylene production plant at Dow Texas Operations in Freeport, Tex., as part of Dow's previously announced comprehensive plan to further connect its U.S. operations with cost-advantaged feedstocks available from increasing supplies of U.S. shale gas.
The new ethylene production facility at Dow Texas Operations will employ up to 2,000 workers at its construction peak. Over the next five to seven years, Dow estimates that this project, together with all other planned projects announced as part of the Company's comprehensive U.S. investment plan, will employ up to 4,800 workers during peak construction and support over 35,000 jobs in the broader U.S. economy.
"For the first time in over a decade, U.S. natural gas prices are affordable and relatively stable, attracting new industry investments and growth and putting us on the threshold of an American manufacturing resurgence," said Andrew N. Liveris, Dow Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Dow is proud to have been among the first manufacturing companies to declare a comprehensive plan to take advantage of these favorable market dynamics, further enhancing our footprint in the Americas and the profitability of our global businesses while supporting economic revitalization in the communities in which we operate. Constructing this new ethylene cracker at Dow Texas Operations will create a long-term advantage for our downstream businesses and for our company as a whole, and the benefits will accrue not only to Dow but to the state and national economy."
This decision marks another significant milestone in the company's strategy to further develop the competitive advantage for Dow's Performance Plastics, Performance Materials and Advanced Materials businesses by expanding access to low-cost natural gas-based feedstocks, which are used in the production of Dow products that are essential to over a dozen consumer markets.
"The outlook for advantaged U.S. natural gas was a significant factor in Dow's decision to invest $4 billion to grow our overall ethylene and propylene production capabilities in the U.S. Gulf Coast region," said Jim Fitterling, Dow Executive Vice President and President of Feedstocks & Energy and Corporate Development. "Today, 70% of the company's global ethylene assets are in regions with cost advantaged feedstocks -- and we've seen the benefits this advantage provides given oil-based naphtha margin pressure in Europe and Asia. This plan represents a game-changing move to strengthen the competitiveness of our high-margin, high-growth derivatives businesses as we continue to capture growth in the Americas."
Dow Texas Operations in Freeport is Dow's largest integrated manufacturing site worldwide and the largest single-company chemical complex in North America. With 4,200 employees and 3,000 contractors on site daily, Dow Texas Operations currently manufactures 44% of Dow products sold in the United States and more than 20% of Dow products sold globally.
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Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.
There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.
But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.
Read more: 2015 Salary Survey