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ExxonMobil picks San Patricio for $10 billion plant

An architect's rendering of what Exxon Mobile's steam cracker plant would look like in San Patricio County. Courtesy illustration

San Patricio County it is. Portland will soon be home to the world’s largest ethylene cracker plant, which will be built by ExxonMobil and partner Saudia Arabia Basic Industries Corp. Three other contenders for the location — one in Victoria and two in Louisiana — were passed over for 1,300 acres at FM 2986 and U.S. 181.

The $10 billion plant is expected to bring 11,000 construction jobs and 600-plus new permanent jobs on-site. The average pay of those jobs should be about $90,000, according to ExxonMobil.

Economic gains for Texas are estimated at $22 billion during construction and $50 billion during the first six years of operation.

A spokesman for ExxonMobil said Portland won for its deep-water access, ready-made pipeline and railway infrastructure. The proposed plant also won widespread support from local governmental entities, including two that granted tax abatements. Both the San Patricio County commissioners and the Gregory-Portland school board voted last month to grant the company incentives to choose the Coastal Bend.

Gov. Greg Abbot weighed in on the decision with a statement.

“This record-breaking project illustrates that our business climate is exactly what leading and growing companies are seeking when investing in their future,” he said, adding that the choice was “a tremendous win” for the state and San Patricio County.

Not everyone is happy with the decision. People against building a huge industrial plant within 1½ miles of a high school spoke against the project at multiple meetings and staged protests.

“They’ve made it obvious money is all they care about,” said Adair Apple, leader of Portland Citizens United, at a recent school board meeting. “The location may meet their criteria, but it does not meet our criteria.”

Permitting to begin construction will take about a year if filing with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality begins this month as expected. Construction should take about three years. Site work could begin as early as this fall.

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