Total is partnering with Borealis and Nova in a joint venture the build an ethane steam cracker and a polyethylene unit on the US Gulf Coast, creating around 1,500 jobs during peak engineering and construction activity.

The $1.7 billion new cracker is scheduled to start up in 2020.

It will be built alongside Total's Port Arthur refinery and Total/BASF existing steam cracker.

"After significant investments in US LNG and US shale gas in 2016, this almost two billion dollar investment signals our determination to strengthen our presence in the United States, where we have operated for 60 years and have more than 6,000 employees," said Patrick Pouyanné, Chairman and CEO of Total.

"We want to take advantage of the business-friendly environment to contribute to making American petrochemicals even greater. By joining forces with Borealis and Nova, we aim to create a major player in the US polyethylene market."

The abundance of available gas in the United States as a result of the shale revolution provides two competitive advantages for petrochemicals – access to low-cost energy to run the facilities and competitively priced ethane feedstock.