Texas City Chemicals

In 2017, BP’s Texas City Chemicals plant (TCC) completed  a major investment project that expanded the facility,  significantly improved its operational efficiency and  increased its production of metaxylene (MX) by 10 percent. Known as Project Hedera, this initiative represented a huge  milestone for the business.  

”Project Hedera was a timely capital investment designed to  meet growing demand for metaxylene,” says Terry Trevino,  TCC’s plant operations manager. “It helped us create a  stronger, more flexible business that will continue to meet  the requirements and changing needs of our customers.”  

TCC is a leading producer of both metaxylene (MX) and  paraxylene (PX), chemical compounds that help make  everything from clothes and carpets to soda bottles  and surfboards.  

Located about 60 miles southeast of BP’s U.S. headquarters  in Houston, TCC has three process units and a deepwater  marine terminal.   

It can produce nearly 1.5 million tons of chemicals each year,  including enough PX to make seat belts for 1.1 billion cars.  

The plant buys hydrocarbon mixtures called “xylenes” from  Gulf Coast refineries, and it uses them to manufacture PX  and MX. TCC delivers much of its PX output to BP’s Cooper  River facility in South Carolina, which in turn manufactures purified terephthalic acid, a BP-invented chemical feedstock  mainly used to make polyester products.  

Meanwhile, TCC sells its MX output to other manufacturers,  who use it to make a wide variety of plastic products,  including fiberglass auto bodies, cooling fans, electronic  connectors and upholstery.  

The plant began operating more than half a century ago,  and today it is part of BP’s global aromatics business,  headed by Luis Sierra.  

“BP’s world-leading technologies in both paraxylene and  PTA were developed in our U.S. laboratories and have been  deployed by our partners and licensees around the world,  giving rise to a whole new industry,” says Sierra. “Today,  polyester plays an important role in so many different  aspects of our lives — from clothing, to food packaging, to  electronics such as smartphones.”  

Committed to safe and reliable operations, TCC has received  the Distinguished Safety Silver Award for top industry safety  performance from the American Fuel & Petrochemical  Manufacturers association.  

When Hurricane Harvey struck the Houston area in 2017,  bringing historic levels of rainfall, TCC maintained safe and  reliable operations throughout the storm.   

“Many of our employees were affected by Harvey,” says  Plant Manager Pete Nowobilski. “Our site received about  35 inches of rain, yet we continued to operate safely and  reliably. I’m tremendously proud of how our team prepared  for and responded to an unprecedented natural disaster.  It speaks volumes about the quality of people we have  working here.”  

Since its first unit started up in 1962, TCC has made  significant contributions, not only to the southeast Texas  economy, but also to local schools and regional community  groups.   

For example, TCC employees volunteer for and donate  to organizations such as the United Way and Junior  Achievement. Over the past five years alone, they have  contributed more than 20,000 volunteer hours to community  service initiatives.  

Elsewhere in Texas City, BP continues to partner with  Eastman Chemical Company on the production and  marketing of acetic acid, which can be used to make  household fabrics, washing powder and other everyday  items.   

In fact, BP is the exclusive marketer of Eastman’s annual  output, which can reach around 580,000 tons.