Exxon Mobil Corp. has started up operations on a new light crude distillation unit at the company’s Beaumont refining complex as it begins to process increasing production from its Permian Basin leasehold, the company said March 16.

The company expects Permian net production to reach more than 600,000 boe/d this year, Exxon Chairman and CEO Darren Woods said during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings report in January. The new unit is able to process the Permian’s light crude. The company aims to scale production in the basin by up to 1 million boe/d by 2027.

The oil and gas supermajor Beaumont expansion boosts the company’s refining capacity by more than 65%, or 250,000 bbl/d.

The $2 billion expansion project, initiated in 2019, raises Beaumont’s total processing capacity to more than 630,000 bbl/d, the company said. That positions Exxon’s Beaumont refinery as the second largest in the U.S., ranking only behind the 636,500-bbl/d Port Arthur refinery owned by Motiva Enterprises, a wholly owned affiliate of Saudi Aramco.

“The new crude unit enables us to produce even more transportation fuels at a time when demand is surging,” said Karen McKee, president of Exxon’s Product Solutions segment, in a news release. “This expansion is the equivalent of a medium-sized refinery and is a key part of our plans to provide society with reliable, affordable energy products.”

Exxon’s crude from the Permian is refined at the Beaumont complex and manufactured into products including diesel, gasoline, jet fuel and other intermediate products and feedstocks.

Exxon’s total refining throughput was 4 million bbl/d in 2022, the company’s highest levels globally since 2012 and Exxon’s best-ever refining throughput in North America.

Exxon reached a final investment decision on the expansion project in 2019, and 1,700 contractors were involved in the development process. The company hired over 50 full-time employees to operate the expanded refining complex, bringing Exxon’s total employees in the Beaumont area up to approximately 2,100.