(Adds details of venture, background)
PARIS, March 27 (Reuters) - French oil and gas major Total said it aims to become a major player in the U.S. polyethylene market as it announced a $1.7 billion joint venture on Monday with Austria’s Borealis and Canada’s Nova Chemical.
The new venture plans to build a 1 million tonne per year ethane steam cracker in Port Arthur, Texas, and is also considering building a 625,000 tonnes per year polyethylene unit at Total’s Bayport site, also in Texas, on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Total will hold a 50 percent stake in the venture and the new cracker, which will be built alongside Total’s Port Arthur refinery and Total/BASF’s existing steam cracker, is scheduled to start in 2020, it said.
“By joining forces with Borealis and Nova, we aim to create a major player in the US polyethylene market,” Total’s Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne said in a statement.
Total said it expects the joint venture to be established in late 2017 and a final investment decision on the polyethylene unit will be taken simultaneously by the JV partners. (Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Richard Balmforth and Susan Fenton)