Dow latest chemical maker to announce U.S. expansion

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Latest Oil and Gas News: 
April 19, 2012

(Wall Street Journal; April 18) - Dow Chemical will build a multibillion-dollar plant to convert natural gas into the building blocks of plastic in the coastal city of Freeport, Texas, becoming the latest chemical maker to capitalize on the abundant gas supplies that are helping spur a renaissance in U.S. manufacturing.

Dow's new plant will create 2,000 jobs at the peak of construction, the company said, and is scheduled for completion in 2017. It will be built on a vacant lot within the chemical conglomerate's Gulf Coast compound near Houston, a metal jungle of pipes and towering furnaces that sprawls over thousands of acres. The new plant is the largest part of a previously announced $4 billion expansion of Dow's facilities in the region, including enhancements to existing plants in Texas and Louisiana.

Dow's announcement comes a month after Shell said it would build a similar $2 billion chemicals plant in Pennsylvania, above the prolific gas deposits of the Marcellus Shale. Other chemical makers are eyeing major investments along the Gulf Coast, near major shale-gas sources in Texas and Louisiana. Chevron Phillips Chemical, a joint venture of Chevron and ConocoPhillips, is moving forward with plans to build a new plant at its facility outside of Houston, part of the company's $5 billion expansion in the region.

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