ExxonMobil promises to spend $20B on 10-year Gulf Coast expansion

HOUSTON — Exxon Mobil (XOM) promised to invest $20 billion over 10 years to build and expand refineries, chemical and liquefied natural gas plants along the Gulf Coast.

Chairman and CEO Darren Woods said Monday the expansion plan was mostly designed to create petroleum products for export. Woods said the work, which would focus on 11 plants in Texas and Louisiana, would create 12,000 permanent jobs and 35,000 construction jobs. Exxon currently has about 71,000 employees. 

The promised $20 billion, decade-long investment would be roughly equal to Exxon’s total capital spending last year. The company announced last week that it plans to increase overall investments to an average of $25 billion a year from 2018 to 2020.

The announcement comes as natural gas prices, largely fueled by the boom in fracking, drop precipitously, reaching the lowest level in a decade last year. “We are using new, abundant domestic energy supplies to provide products to the world at a competitive advantage resulting from lower costs and abundant raw materials,” Woods said in the press release.

President Donald Trump, who made Exxon’s previous CEO, Rex Tillerson, his Secretary of State, took credit for the company’s expansion in a series of tweets Monday afternoon. “The spirit of optimism sweeping the country is already boosting job growth, and it is only the beginning,” declared a press release from the White House.

The U.S. exported about $91 billion of petroleum and natural gas products in 2015, according to UN Comtrade data, but it imported even more -- about $95 billion.