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Cracker project still on schedule

Staff report

Construction of an ethane cracker at Total Port Arthur Refinery on Highway 73 continues on pace, McDermott’s project manager said Tuesday.

Johnathan Moore told a Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce luncheon the project’s in its third year — the first was spent in site prep — and contractors expect seven shipments to arrive with needed equipment in the coming months. The first will come May 10; a second will arrive about a week later.

He said the project will peak for labor with some 1,600 workers on site in the fourth quarter of this year, probably in November and December.

“There’s still a lot of transformation to go,” he said.

Total, Borealis and NOVA Chemicals formally launched the $1.7 billion project in June 2018. The project is projected to be operational by the end of 2020. The cracker will produce a base ingredient for plastics.

Moore said 427 pieces of equipment will be set as part of the project, with 89 “heavy lifts” of equipment to be done by September.

He said some 59 percent of the company’s work — fabrication, engineering, procurement and some construction — is done; about 22 percent of the site has been “put together.” He said the “heart of the work” would be done late this year.

Moore also said the company had been heavily involved in the community, beyond working with local contractors, the largest of which is BO-MAC of Beaumont.

That includes participation in a Port Arthur industry show in 2018, Lamar Institute of Technology’s job fair, a carpentry program at Lamar State College Port Arthur and a STEM program at an elementary school.

He said a committee of 10 craft workers has chosen other community projects this year. They include jobs fairs and other recruiting events.

“There’s a lot happening,” he said.