HOUSTON — President Donald Trump recently praised Exxon Mobil Corp. for the company’s plans to create thousands of jobs by spending $20 billion over 10 years on refineries, chemical and liquefied natural gas plants along the Gulf Coast.
Exxon's plan, however, started long before Trump entered the White House. It includes investments that were started in 2013.
Exxon said March 6 the work would create 12,000 permanent jobs — the energy giant currently has about 71,000 employees — and 35,000 construction jobs.
Trump went on Twitter to congratulate the company, 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, 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.
The company's new chairman and CEO, Darren Woods, said March 6 that Exxon would expand at several current plants and build a new one to create petroleum products for export.
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.
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 current facilities around Beaumont and Baytown, Texas, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and 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 recently 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 eight per cent so far this year.