New investment -- including a world-scale ethylene steam cracker proposed by ExxonMobil -- is expanding the U.S. petrochemical industry’s position as a global producer, Steve Pryor, president of ExxonMobil Chemical Company, said in a speech at the IHS CERAWeek 2013 conference today. “For the first time in more than a decade, major capacity additions have been announced that convert ethane, a natural gas liquid, to ethylene, the largest petrochemical building block,” Pryor said. He estimated the announced additions are equivalent to six to eight new world-scale steam crackers. “While all announced projects may not materialize, the U.S. industry is clearly poised to expand its position as a leading petrochemical producer. With 85 percent of global demand growth projected to occur in emerging markets, this is great news for U.S. exports,” Pryor said. “ExxonMobil, as the largest U.S. chemical manufacturer and natural gas producer, is developing a unique project that builds on our proven integration model,” Pryor said. “It will be sustained over the ups and downs of the business cycle by advantages in integration, scale and premium products.” ExxonMobil Chemical has filed permit applications for a multibillion-dollar expansion at its Baytown, Texas, site, already the country’s largest integrated refining-chemical producing site. The project will convert ethylene from a new world-scale steam cracker to premium polyethylene products to serve growing markets around the world. Feedstock and energy supplies will be coordinated with ExxonMobil’s upstream business. “The project will be a win-win for ExxonMobil and Texas, a pro-business state which has attracted more ExxonMobil investment than anywhere in the country, and where we are the state’s largest taxpayer,” Pryor said. The benefits for the Greater Houston area are significant and will grow if the project receives the necessary permits and proceeds to the construction phase. Pryor estimated that the project would provide 10,000 jobs at the peak of construction. The proposed project would also have a multiplier effect and create an additional 3,800 other jobs in the area and increase regional economic activity by $870 million per year, he added.