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Sister cities talk possible business venture (video)

By Jessica Puente
Aug. 24, 2012 at 3:24 a.m.
Updated Aug. 25, 2012 at 3:25 a.m.

Victoria Mayor Will Armstrong, center, and others take a candlelight tour of mission ruins near the Spirit Inn in Mission Valley.

SATURDAY SCHEDULE:

1 p.m. - Tour of LaSalle exhibition; Atlatl throwing demonstration by Mexican delegation. Both events are at the Museum of the Coastal Bend, 2200 E. Red River St.

2:30 p.m. - Olive tree planting at rose garden near Riverside Park

Driving over part of the 400-mile long Eagle Ford Shale formation, Mayor Francisco Garcia Castells, of Guerrero, Coahuila, completes his journey from Mexico at the Port of Victoria.

Garcia's daughter peers over the glossy conference room table in the administration offices at a map of the port while the mayors discuss the road to the future.

A Mexican delegation is visiting the Crossroads through Saturday to seal the deal of the Partners in History program. The program is based on past historical connections of the Spanish mission sites in both cities.

The sand that may have once surrounded the historic missions - symbols of a past relationship between Guerrero and Victoria - could now be the very thing forging the cities future relationship.

Silica sand from various ranches in the municipality of Nava in the state of Coahuila is currently being analyzed to determine whether it would be suitable for fracking in Texas.

Coahuila officials are still waiting for the analysis results. If the sand is suitable for drilling, they would begin negotiations with the Port of Victoria before the end of the year, Garcia said.

Looking to use the silica sand to make glass, a Corona Inc. company in Coahuila also is monitoring the natural resource, Garcia said.

"They are the largest Corona company in Latin America and they're going to produce a million bottles a day," Garcia said.

Silica sand is a fine, high-purity sand and is one of the largest natural resources for the Mexican state. Coahuila is home to 95 percent of all the coal reserves in Mexico, making coal the largest natural resource in the state, Garcia said.

"No coal comes to Victoria currently," said Dale Fowler, president of the Victoria Economic Development Corp. "But there is a coal-fired power plant nearby (Coleto Creek Power Plant) and they get their coal mostly from Wyoming through rail."

Depending on what type of coal the plant uses, bringing in the natural resource from Coahuila through rail would be closer and cheaper for Victoria, Garcia said.

While new business relationships are a possibility, the Port of Victoria and CRU Logistic, a Mexican-based company, have been in a partnership for almost a year.

The company brings fracking sand into the area from other parts of the United States. Railroad cars that have the ability to unload onto trucks are filled with sand from the six-silo terminals at the port and then dispatched to well sites in surrounding cities, including Cuero, Yoakum and Gonzales.

"They showed interest, came out here and hit it off well," said Everard McDowell, operations manager for the Port of Victoria. "They were looking to get into the Eagle Ford Shale play in the area and a lot of that needs frack sand."

Among the members of the delegation visiting are Garcia and his wife; Enrique Cervera, official state historian for Guerrero and Jesus Saucedo, former mayor of Guerrero.

After touring the port, the delegation took a candlelight tour of the mission site ruins nestled between trees near the banks of the Guadalupe River in Mission Valley.

Saturday they will finish the tour by exploring the recreation of Presidio La Bahia in Goliad, the final location of the mission.

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