Signs of growth?

Work continues to dismantle an old processing unit at Dow Chemical in Texas City on Tuesday.

KEVIN M. COX/The Daily News

TEXAS CITY — Those who drove by Dow Chemical’s Texas City chemical plant during the past two months have no doubt seen a lot of activity. Crews are finishing work on tearing down several units that have been out of commission for about 10 years.

The demolition work may signal the end of those units, but it may also signal potential growth for the site, which was built by Union Carbide in the 1940s.

“Several structures, including columns and a water tower are being taken down,” Dow spokeswoman Tracie Copeland said. “(Also) an old hydrocarbons plant that was shutdown in 2004 is being demolished.”

Ryan McGill, the site manager in Texas City, said in addition to the “cleanup” of outdated on site assets, the company is also expanding at the Texas City site.

“You will see throughout the course of the year a lot of work,” McGill said. “On the northern half (of the plant) we will be executing Phase 2 of a multimillion-dollar asset life extension project.”

The second phase should be done by the end of the year and a third phase of work will begin in 2015, McGill said.

That means Dow plans to spend a lot of money to refurbish to its units. The Texas City plant has 21 different product lines and is home to the world’s largest C4 alcohol — also known as butyl alcohol — processing plant.

And more could be coming. That’s because after years of downtown in the chemical industry, there is expansion taking place across the globe. 

The American Chemistry Council estimated that the chemical industry saw a 1.3 percent job growth last year and expects more jobs to be added as chemical production expansion continues through 2018.

That is in contrast to annual declines in chemical plant employment between 1999 and 2011.

It’s expected that the U.S. Chemical industry will invest about $61 billion in capital spending by 2018 while worldwide capital spending will top $618 billion within the next four years. That is twice the investment that was seen in 2010, the group said in a 2013 year-end report stating that “American chemistry is back in the game.”

More than 135 new chemical production projects valued at more than $90 billion have been announced within the last two years, the chemical council said.

That’s driven in large part by the easy access to natural gas supplies in the United States. Dow is taking advantage of the ever-improving economics.

“Our business is healthy and stable,” McGill said. “Dow is doing a tremendous amount of investment here on the Texas Gulf Coast, and we continue to work with Dow and the city at evaluating development here on some of this brownfield space that we have made.”

That would include projects that aren’t necessarily on-site processing or production.

“We have an excellent site for expansion with land, energy, steam, water, waste disposal and other infrastructure resources in place,” Copeland said. “Under the current market conditions, this makes the Texas City site an attractive place to invest.

“We are looking forward and preparing our site for the right growth opportunity, bringing more economic value to this community and ensuring the long-life of our Texas City operations is important to us. 

“Our position is not limited to grow organically but open to work with fence line partners which complement the company growth strategy.”





Contact Mainland Editor T.J. Aulds at 409-683-5334 or

(5) comments

Gary Miller

A product the petro chemical industry thrives on is natural and produced gas.
Produced gas is a oil refinery by product. Gulf coast refineries will produce more gas when the Keystone XL pipeline is completed. Jobs will be added when that oil is available. Jobs will reduce the local need for welfare, just what BHO is against.
Welfare is more important than jobs to progressives.

PD Hyatt

If this administration has its way Keystone pipeline will never be finished....They hate the oil industry and the great paying jobs that come with it....

Reggie Barnett

I was an operator in the #3 Olefins at Union Carbide for over 8 years, that is referenced in this story. Dow calls units that take Ethane, Propane and Naptha to an Olefin as a Light Hydrocarbon Plant. In 2004 when margins were low decisions to shutter the Union Carbide Olefin units in Texas City and Seadrift was mostly political. The former UCC units were more efficient and were Ethane crackers but because of "environmental" CO2 and NOX emissions they were chosen to close. Gulf Coast ethylene capacity was reduced and prices were raised. The facilities closed were actually better than the Dow facilities in Freeport and Plaquemine, LA. Now with fracking the two light end crackers are going to be rebuilt in Freeport, with the same capacity that Texas City is dismantling. Sad thing is Dow is 4 years behind, Lyondell, ExxonMobil, Ineos, ChevronPhillips and
Formosa that are ahead of Dow increasing capacity. This could have been restored quickly rather than tearing down a facility. Dow stockholders don't get the real story ever.

George Croix

Clears path for future expansion, and by coincidence, clears property from tax roles.

#3 Olefins. It blew up around 40 years ago. Made quite a mess of several houses at what was then a nice, middle class Lee Addition.
Pretty much the start of the end for both places...

Miceal O'Laochdha

I spent many years tied up, loading and unloading, at refineries around the world (especially in the US). I have been to sea carrying a multitude of products; on some "drug store" tankers I sailed on, we carried up to 42 assorted grades of products. But, I have never known anything much about the nuts and bolts details of the operations inside those refineries. Thanks for the details and more are always welcome.

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