OYSTER CREEK — Cutting the ribbon on MEGlobal’s Oyster Creek site Monday was a momentous occasion for people in Brazoria County, the United States and the Middle East, officials said.
The EQUATE Petrochemical Co.-owned subsidy is the first time a Kuwait-based petrochemical company has invested in the U.S. Gulf Coast, EQUATE Senior Executive Abeer Al-Omar said.
MEGlobal began in 2004 as a joint venture of Dow Chemical Co. and Petrochemical Industries of Kuwait before it was acquired by EQUATE Petrochemical Company in 2015, according to a news release.
The MEGlobal Oyster Creek site is MEGlobal’s largest facility, with the capacity to produce about 750,000 million tons of ethylene glycol annually, the release states. The $2-billion project provided 2,000 construction jobs at its peak and created 80 long-term and contract positions, Al-Omar said.
Monoethylene glycol is largely used for polyester products, MEGlobal Commercial Director Jim Ashworth said, adding that is about 85 percent of the global use of monoethylene glycol. That goes into fibers in clothing and resin for making bottles, film and packaging, Ashworth said.
“It’s a great fabric and it has really revolutionized a lot of fabric and apparel around the world,” he said.
Another 10 percent goes toward making antifreeze and coolants and 5 percent toward industrial uses, including cement grinding and heat transfer fluids, according to Ashworth’s presentation.
“If you got up this morning and you ate or drank something, if you put on some clothing and if you got in a car and drove on a highway, you’ve used ethylene glycol today,” Ashworth said.
The need for ethylene glycol has grown steadily, he said.
“That is why you have such a need for a plant right here at Oyster Creek,” Ashworth said. “The demand and applications for ethylene glycol are a global basis, so this is why it’s a truly global product, used and consumed globally.”
The Gulf Coast location offers the site excellent access to global shipping routes, Global Operations Excellence Director Clarence Stadlwieser said. The site is 112 acres, ample room to build a “world-scale” glycol plant, he said.
MEGlobal Oyster Creek will get its ethylene from Dow Chemical Co. — which is a 42.5 percent shareholder of EQUATE — its oxygen from Praxair, electricity from CenterPoint Energy, freshwater from the Brazos River through the Dow Canal and fuel gas from Kinder Morgan, Stadlwieser said.
Safety was the top priority during construction of the Oyster Creek site, leaving all of the other metrics to fall into place, he said.
While EQUATE President and CEO Ramesh Ramachandran said he’d prefer to produce product before crowing about success, the project did come in ahead of schedule and under budget.
The plant would produce glycol within 30 days, then it’s “off to the races,” he said.
Usually projects only fit two of three standards including on budget, on time and safe, Dow Chemical CEO Jim Fitterling said, adding the MEGlobal managed to meet all three.
“This is the first petrochemical Middle East-based ownership in the U.S. Gulf Coast, and we’re proud to be a part of it, and we’re proud that we’ve been able to work together to make it happen,” Fitterling said.
Site Leader Scott Daigle said MEGlobal has already made significant contributions in the community with a $1 million endowment for Brazosport College to provide dual credit scholarships for high school students and they look forward to doing more.
“Brazoria County and Texas have been fantastic, welcoming us with open arms,” he said. “We want to be an active, beneficial part of the community. Our goal coming in was not just to build a plant in Brazoria County, but to be a positive part of the community and give back.”