Coming on the heels of completing $2 billion in investments in its Louisiana operations, Dow Chemical Co.'s president said Friday he’s hopeful there will be another round of upgrades.
“We’re working on where our next project is going to be, and I’m hopeful we will be coming back to say there will be more investment in Louisiana,” said Jim Fitterling, president and chief operating officer of Dow.
Fitterling also is chief executive officer of the materials science division at DowDuPont, which was created when the two chemical giants completed a $62 billion merger. The plan is to create three divisions in the company: agriculture, materials science and specialties.
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At a ceremony Friday at Dow's Plaquemine plant, Fitterling said the “vast majority” of operations at the Plaquemine plant will fall under the materials science division, which will include plastics, performance materials, coatings and intermediates. That division will be called Dow. If all goes well, the division will be split off by the end of 2018 or early 2019, Fitterling said.
“We’re going to be the most customer-centric materials science company in the world,” he said.
Dow’s Louisiana expansion includes two new polyolefin plants designed to produce next generation synthetic rubber and high performance polyethylene; 1 million square feet of warehouse space; increased ethylene capacity at the Plaquemine plant; a new hydrocarbons command center; and a restart of the ethylene cracker at its St. Charles Parish plant. One polyolefin plant is located in Iberville Parish, the other is in West Baton Rouge Parish. Dow officials joked there’s a friendly competition to see which will be the first plant up and running at full capacity.
When Dow first announced the expansions four years ago as part of an effort to take advantage of the ample nearby supply of cheap natural gas and improving world economy, the price was pegged at $1 billion. Since then, expansion of work caused it to double.
That shows the confidence Dow has in Louisiana because the company could have had similar growth at any of its plants around the world, said Don Pierson, secretary of Louisiana Economic Development. “Because of the environment and the workforce we are able to deliver in Louisiana, decisions were made for more capacity, more product lines,” he said.
Dow said the expansion has led to 87 new direct jobs, 150 contract employee jobs and 470 new indirect jobs. At its peak, the expansions created 3,000 construction jobs.