The Japanese company, Kuraray Chemical Company, will soon open its third petrochemical plant near Houston to produce polyvinyl alcohol for windshield safety glass and the rapidly growing segment of laundry and dishwasher detergent pods. The new plant has already begun producing sample polyvinyl alcohol to market to potential customers and will be marketed under the Kuraray Poval brand. The project represents the company’s largest geographic investment in the region on 81 acres along Bay Area Boulevard in Harris County’s Bayport development. Although the project cost is not known, it will employ 54 people and about 40 on contract. The boom of natural gas shale in Texas and the availability of cheap ethane and butane feedstocks to manufacture the chemicals, as well as cheap electricity to operate the plant are the factors that led to the decision to set up this plant in Houston. Other countries use a form of crude oil that’s plummeted in price to produce chemicals, but natural gas remains cheaper. Europe and Asia can be competitive, but the price of natural gas is lower in US and also has the lowest cost for many of the materials.
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