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From Houston to Asia and back, ethane's final form is packaging
The Houston Chronicle ^ | September 14, 2018 | Jordan Blum

Posted on 09/16/2018 5:23:45 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet

Open a bag of frozen shrimp from Walmart. Toss the packaging in the trash.

Two routine tasks, but they represent final commercial destinations for ethane molecules freed from Texas shale, a journey that has not only taken them hundreds of miles to Houston’s massive petrochemical complex, but also around the world and back again in the carefully choreographed dance of global supply chains.

Each day, hundreds of trucks and rail cars move pellets of ethane-derived polyethylene from petrochemical plants, such as Exxon Mobil's in Mont Belvieu, to the Port of Houston. There, the pellets are loaded by the ton onto container ships and bound for ports like Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, where the molecules of hydrogen and carbon will be transformed yet again — into plastic wrap, trash bags and packaging for farm-raised shrimp found in freezer sections of grocery stores in Houston and across the country.

PART 1: How the ethane molecule changed the Gulf Coast — and the world

Ultimately, the shipments of polyethylene, the world’s most common plastic, will bring billions of dollars into the Houston economy and generate jobs for factory workers, longshore workers and truck drivers. Patrick Jankowski, chief economist at the Greater Houston Partnership, estimates the growth in U.S. plastics exports — dominated by the Gulf Coast and expected to double by 2030 — will have created some 10,000 local jobs in the region by early next decade....

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Science
KEYWORDS: hiring; jobs; plastics; trade
About the series:

Ethane is simply described as C2H6. But that molecule, a byproduct of natural gas, has triggered a petrochemical boom that is reshaping the Gulf Coast, the energy industry that lives here, and global markets for plastics, resins and other petrochemicals.

We followed that molecule from a Texas shale field where it is found, to the petrochemical plant where it is transformed into ethylene, the basic building block of most plastics, and to the Port of Houston, where it is shipped to Asia and other emerging consumer markets.

1 posted on 09/16/2018 5:23:45 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Why are those pellets being sent off to be turned into plastic?

2 posted on 09/16/2018 5:45:28 PM PDT by wastedyears (The left would kill every single one of us and our families if they knew they could get away with it)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Isn’t it amazing what President Obama’s repeated use of the phrase “Drill Baby Drill” provided for us.

You would think he had a magic wand!

3 posted on 09/16/2018 5:46:09 PM PDT by Balding_Eagle ( The Great Wall of Trump ---- 100% sealing of the border. Coming soon.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

This article and others like it are meant to shame Americans from developing shale oil. The Demonrat/media/Deep State Complex hate anything that lets Americans be less dependent on foreign energy sources. They want to BRING DOWN this country. They’d have destroyed it with nuclear weapons long ago if they didn’t need the products and lifestyle we produce for them.

4 posted on 09/16/2018 5:47:12 PM PDT by backwoods-engineer (Enjoy the decline of the American empire.)
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To: wastedyears

Because “over there” the work can be done by slave labor with no environmental restrictions.

5 posted on 09/16/2018 5:49:00 PM PDT by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
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To: backwoods-engineer

Did you read the article?

6 posted on 09/16/2018 6:04:33 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (You cannot invade the mainland US. There'd be a rifle behind every blade of grass.)
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To: DuncanWaring

“Because “over there” the work can be done by slave labor with no environmental restrictions.”

The process of turning the pellets into packaging is one of heat, pressure, and the mold or sheeting mill. No real environmental impact. It’s just cheaper to transport the raw pellets and create the necessary packaging on-site rather than bringing the completed packaging to the site.

Think of the packaging of milk in the half-gallon and gallon containers. If they were brought in empty from outside and ready to fill, you’re paying a lot of money to transport air. Instead, they buy pellets and have a blow-molding process to create containers that are then filled with milk for transport to stores.

7 posted on 09/16/2018 6:08:09 PM PDT by T-Bird45 (It feels like the seventies, and it shouldn't.)
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To: T-Bird45

T-Bird45 is absolutely correct about the logistics. It would be silly to fabricate end products here in the US. And, he’s right about the environmental impacts.

The ethane cracker and polyethylene plants in Houston essentially convert an 8 cent/pound fuel to 60 cent/pound resin.

The ethane cracker and polyethylene plant typically add most of the value on the way from ethane to plastic film, not the film fabricator in Vietnam.

The US chemical industry — Texas and Louisiana in particular — is globally competitive in plastics. This is an extraordinary accomplishment given that there is very substantial capacity in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar and they, too, have access to abundant ethane.

About fifteen years ago people in the US industry were concerned about the future of ethane as an ethylene feedstock. Thanks to fracking that has changed 180 degrees. Obama gets zero credit for that. He and the Democrats have consistently opposed fracking ever since it was demonstrated as a viable technology.

8 posted on 09/16/2018 6:59:30 PM PDT by Skepolitic
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