In a move that aims to take advantage of low natural gas prices, Total S.A., Borealis AG and NOVA Chemicals have closed on a petrochemical joint venture in Texas after receiving all required regulatory approvals, the companies said May 23.

The joint venture, Bayport Polymers, will take ownership of Total's existing 880-million-lb-per-year polyethylene facility in Bayport, Texas and a $1.7-billion, 1-million-ton-per-year ethane steam cracker that is being built by CB&I in Port Arthur, Texas. The cracker is slated to begin operating in 2020.

The company is considering building a 625,000-ton-per-year Borstar polyethylene unit at Total's Bayport facility, subject to further approvals as well as the outcome of an engineering, procurement and construction agreement, according to the companies.

The Bayport Polymers joint venture is 50% owned by Total, based in Paris, and 50% owned by Novealis Holdings, a joint venture of NOVA Chemicals, headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, and Vienna-based Borealis. 

The three companies originally agreed to form the joint venture in February.

Bayport Polymers intends to be a major player in the U.S. polyethylene market, according to Diane Chamberlain, company president. "We have a great opportunity to take advantage of low-cost feedstocks in the United States and deliver quality products that respond to the growing global demand for plastics," Chamberlain said.

The joint venture will for the first time in the Americas use the proprietary Borstar polyethylene process technology and provide access to markets outside of North America, according to NOVA Chemicals.