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Chemical plants in Baytown plan huge expansion

HIGHLANDS – Chamber members heard plans for major expansion in two Baytown area chemical plants. The new construction will generate two types of jobs, according to Van Long, plant manager at the Cedar Bayou ChevronPhillips refinery.

Construction jobs over the next five years could come to 4000 for their project, and another similar amount for the ExxonMobil plant expansion planned at the same time. In addition, other projects in the chemical and oil business in the Baytown/Mont Belvieu area might generate as much as 15,000 construction jobs. After the plants are built, ChevronPhillips will need about 400 to 600 permanent employees and contract workers. The other plants will generate similar needs for workers, he said.

These new plants will make I-hexene and ethane. Chevron, Gulf Oil and Phillips 66 joined as one company in July 2000, Long said. The plant makes various types of plastics, which usually end up as polypropylene in our everyday plastic products.

Long said that his company is working closely with Lee College, to train workers for the jobs at these plants. They are providing 50% scholarships for workforce development scholars, and 100% if dual credit. They are also providing mentors to the program. Graduates get an Associate of Applied Sciences degree.

Baytown is the center of this expansion due to new shale deposits coming through pipelines and rail cars from Eagle Ford and Barnett to Mont Belvieu.

Growth of new ethane supply in the United State, Long said, will mean 17,000 new chemcial jobs in the U.S., and 81,000 new jobs in Texas in all industries outside the chemical industry.

There are a total of 19 chemical plants in the greater Baytown area, with 5000 full time employees now, soon to be 6200, and 7500 contract employees.