Trump cheers Exxon plan to spend $20B on Gulf Coast projects




HOUSTON — President Donald Trump and Exxon Mobil Corp. exchanged praise for each other on Monday as the company announced plans to create thousands of jobs by spending $20 billion over 10 years on plants along the Gulf Coast.

Exxon’s plan started long before Mr. Trump entered the White House, however. It includes investments that began in 2013.

Exxon said Monday the work would create 12,000 permanent jobs — the energy giant currently has about 71,000 employees — and 35,000 construction jobs.

Exxon announced its plan in a news release in which CEO Darren Woods was quoted as saying that such big investments “require a pro-growth approach and a stable regulatory environment and we appreciate the President’s commitment to both.”

A few minutes later, the White House issued its own release about Mr. Trump congratulating Exxon. One paragraph in the White House release is nearly identical to a passage in Exxon’s.

The president followed up on Twitter, saying that “Buy American & hire American are the principals at the core of my agenda,” although he apparently meant that those are among his principles.

In his third tweet on Exxon, Mr. Trump wrote, “45,000 construction & manufacturing jobs in the U.S. Gulf Coast region. $20 billion investment. We are already winning again, America!”

In December, Trump plucked Exxon’s then-CEO, Rex Tillerson, to be his secretary of state. Mr. Tillerson and Mr. Trump met Monday shortly before the Exxon and White House press releases.

Mr. Woods, the new chairman and CEO, said Monday that Exxon would expand at several current plants and build a new one to create petroleum products for export.

Mr. Woods said the investment plan responds to the rising supply of natural gas. There has been a boom in production created by techniques such as fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, in shale formations like the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico.

Exxon recently agreed to buy rights to about 250,000 more acres, doubling its presence in the Permian at a cost of up to $6.6 billion — a huge bet on the hottest oil and gas field in the country.

Mr. Woods said hydraulic fracturing has “opened up a whole new energy future for the United States ... [that] is turning the U.S. from energy importer to energy exporter.”

Exxon announced the spending plan at a major energy-industry conference in Houston that draws executives and oil ministers from around the world.

The company said it plans 10 expansion projects at refineries and chemical and liquefied natural gas plants around Beaumont and Baytown, Texas, and Baton Rouge, La. It also wants to build a new chemicals plant at a location yet to be determined along the Gulf.

The sum of $20 billion 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.

Shares of the Irving, Texas-based company rose 37 cents to close at $82.83. They have lost about 8 percent so far this year.




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