Arkema exploring $400 million expansion of Beaumont plant to produce intermediates for component used in animal nutrition

Arkema Inc. presented potential plans for expanding its Beaumont plant to the Jefferson County Commissioners Court on Monday, May 22.

The project could see a $400 million investment and create 19 permanent jobs and 500 temporary jobs during peak construction at the chemical manufacturer’s 2810 Gulf States Road facility near the ExxonMobil Beaumont refinery, according to Didier Auber, regional manufacturing director for Arkema. The plant currently has around 120 employees, he said.

The Beaumont facility produces methyl mercaptan, ethyl mercaptan, dimethyl sulfide (DMS) and methylmercapto-proprionaldehyde (MMP). One of these products, ethyl mercaptan, is the odorant added to liquid propane to give it its distinctive smell to help detect leaks.

The expansion would increase capacity of intermediates used in the production of an animal feed supplement. MMP is a component used in the production of methionine, an essential amino acid and key component of animal feed for poultry, swine, cattle and sheep.

According to the Texas A&M University article, “An economic analysis of a methionine source comparison response model,” methionine is the first-limiting amino acid in corn and soybean meal-based poultry diets. Therefore, its supplementation level is of primary economic importance to poultry production.”

The University of Kentucky (UK) article, “Synthetic Methionine and Organic Poultry Diets” also explains the importance of the amino acid.

“Methionine is a sulfur-containing amino acid that is essential for healthy and productive poultry, and is important for many different functions in the body,” the article reads. “By producing methyl groups, methionine is responsible for a variety of metabolic reactions. It is also essential for cell proliferation and development. …
“While all amino acids are important, some cannot be produced by animals and must therefore be supplied in the diet. The amino acids that cannot be produced by animals are referred to as essential amino acids. Methionine is one of the essential amino acids for poultry.

“Grains are typically low in lysine, and legumes are low in methionine. … One way of meeting the methionine requirement is to feed excessive protein so that the daily intake of methionine is met.”

However, this results in an excess of nitrogen excretion and is not environmentally friendly, the UK article reads.

“The use of synthetic methionine in poultry diets makes it possible to feed lower levels of dietary protein that still meet the daily methionine requirement.”

Auber said the Beaumont plant expansion would not require more land and would remain on the Arkema site’s current footprint of 47 acres.

“We could be looking at starting construction sometime in the second half of 2018, and if so, construction would be finished sometime in late 2020,” Auber said.

The project may require an additional pipeline to be run to the plant for feedstock purposes, he said.

Arkema is currently in the process of submitting its tax abatement application to Jefferson County, and the company’s board of directors, based in France, must approve the project, which Auber calls “a work in progress,” before it can move forward.

“If we get preliminary board approval on this project, it could come later this summer, at the earliest,” he said.

Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick said he is excited about the potential project.

“I’m excited about all projects that create jobs for Jefferson County residents,” Branick said. “Arkema’s will be highly paid positions and will be creating significant long-term capital infrastructure subject to property taxation. The project should also increase sales tax revenues.”

About Arkema

Headquartered in Colombes, France, the Arkema group was created in October 2004, following the reorganization of Total’s Chemicals branch. A designer of materials and innovative solutions, Arkema shapes materials and creates new uses that accelerate customer performance in lightweight and design materials, biosourced materials, new energies, water management, solutions for electronics, and the performance and home insulation.
A specialty chemicals global major with three business segments – High Performance Materials, Industrial Specialties, and Coating Solutions – and globally recognized brands, the Group reports annual sales of $8.4 billion. Arkema has approximately 20,000 employees in close to 50 countries.