Exxon Mobil Corp, announced it will decide as soon as May whether or not to move forward with a planned $10 billion petrochemical complex just north of Corpus Christi after being approved for the desired tax breaks.
The Gregory-Portland School Board accepted the requested tax abatement Tuesday evening, just one day after the San Patricio County Commissioners also approved the property tax breaks totaling $460 million. Votes were delayed for a couple of months due to opposition from locals. Portland residents in specific are fearful of their small community becoming a new industrial corridor.
“In the weeks and months ahead, we will continue to listen to the community. We will continue to learn from those with whom we have the privilege to dialogue with – regardless of whether or not they support the project,” wrote Robert Tully, Exxon’s project executive, in a prepared statement.
The project is a joint venture between Exxon Mobil and state-owned Saudi Basic Industries Corp., (SABIC) that’s called Gulf Coast Growth Ventures. According to Tully, the team will complete the site selection in the upcoming two to three months, afterwards they will begin the required permitting processes. Despite considering three other Texas and Louisiana sites, they preferred the Corpus Christi region for its proximity to pipelines, railways, highways, employee housing and port access.
Plans of the plant to be located just outside the city limits of Portland and Gregory have sparked much opposition in local communities, which together have a total of about 20,000 residents. Like in many other cities and towns where large developments are proposed, the question of whether or not promised jobs and economic growth were worth the plant’s effect on the character and quality of life in the communities.
The plant is one of the largest proposed in Texas and would create about 11,000 construction jobs and 600 permanent jobs, feature the world’s largest ethane cracker, which processes a component of natural gas into ethylene which is the primary building block of most plastics.
The project could be completed as soon as 2021 and is designed to capitalize on cheap Texas shale natural gas to make chemicals for plastics for emerging markets such as China and India. Exxon Mobil and SABIC promised to be sensitive to concerns of the community and residents by, for example, green spaces and a half-mile buffer around the 1,400acre site for the plant.
The plant near Corpus Christi is one of several of Exxon Mobil’s upcoming projects. Karen McKee, Exxon Mobil’s Vice President for global basic chemical, said the company expects to complete by year-end massive ethane cracker and plastics expansion at its Baytown and Mount Belvieu sites, with plans to sell much of the production in foreign markets.
Article written by HEI contributor Lydia Ezeakor.