June 7, 2018 / 6:12 PM / in 4 months

CORRECTED-France's Total plans growth along US Gulf Coast in petrochemicals

(Corrects the ethane cracker will produce ethylene (not ethane) and send it to a polyethylene (not ethylene) plant in paragraph 5)

PORT ARTHUR, Texas, June 4 (Reuters) - Adding petrochemical plants is how French energy conglomerate Total SA plans to expand along the U.S. Gulf Coast in the coming years, a company executive said on Monday.

Christophe Gerondeau, country chairman for Total in the United States, described the plans at the ground-breaking ceremony for a new 1 million ton per year ethane cracker.

The cracker is being built at Total’s 225,500 barrel per day (bpd) Port Arthur, Texas, refinery and alongside a joint-venture steam cracker owned by Total and BASF, the company said.

The new ethane cracker will cost $1.7 billion by the time it begins production in 2020.

The ethane cracker will produce ethylene from U.S. feedstock and send it to the 400,000 ton per year polyethylene plant in Bayport, Texas.

Total wants to add a further 625,000 tons per year in capacity to the Bayport plant, Gerondeau said.

“We are in the final approval process of that expansion,” he said.

Total does not plan to add crude oil refining capacity at the Port Arthur refinery, focusing instead on petrochemical expansion, said Bernard Pinatel, president of refining and chemicals for Total.

“We love the U.S. for expansion in petrochemicals,” Pinatel said. “It’s a country in which we’d like to further expand.”

Tariffs proposed by the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump on steel imports are not expected to impact construction of the ethane cracker, Port Arthur refinery General Manager Bryan Canfield said.

“We don’t feel we’re very exposed,” Canfield said. (Reporting by Erwin Seba Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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