Massive petrochemical plant planned for area north of Corpus Christi

Fuel Fix:
Exxon Mobil and Saudi Arabia’s top chemical company confirmed they are advancing plans to build a massive new petrochemical plant north of Corpus Christi in San Patricio County.

Plans for the multibillion-dollar project at the preferred site, which is being opposed by some local communities, are moving forward for the joint venture between Exxon and the Saudi Basic Industries Corp., known as SABIC.

If the plans fall through, Exxon and SABIC could still select from three other sites they were considering — one near Victoria and two in Louisiana.

“San Patricio County is the preferred site,” said SABIC spokeswoman Susan LeBourdais. “However, the three other potential locations are still under consideration.” The companies also added, “The project is advancing study of the San Patricio site.” They have filed applications to proceed with the county and the Gregory-Portland Independent School District.

Portland’s City Council voted in December to encourage Exxon and SABIC to build elsewhere, but the site is just outside of the city limits so the vote wasn’t binding. The 1,400-acre site is in an open area, but it’s still less than two miles from the public high school.

The plant would include the world’s largest ethane cracker, which turns a component of natural gas into ethylene, the primary building block of most plastics. The project also would include plastics manufacturing.

The project would create about 11,000 construction jobs and at least 600 permanent positions. The effort is another part of Saudi Arabia’s ambition to diversify more globally, including growing along the Texas Gulf Coast.

The chemical and plastics plant is the first U.S. joint venture for SABIC and Exxon Mobil, two of the world’s biggest energy companies. The plant could come online as early as 2020 if construction begins this year. The plan is to take advantage of cheap and ample shale natural gas available here to make chemicals and plastics.
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The big players in the energy business recognize that the alternative energy mavens have no alternative for the petrochemical business which is an important ingredient of modern life.  These are good jobs, and Texas has the natural gas needed to make the plant work.   The companies also plan to invest in the infrastructure needed in the area to support the plant.

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