Victoria misses bid for huge ExxonMobil plant

Kathryn Cargo By Kathryn Cargo

April 19, 2017 at 11:10 a.m.
Updated April 19, 2017 at 11:10 a.m.

ExxonMobil is still considering building in San Patricio County.

ExxonMobil is still considering building in San Patricio County.   Contributed rendering/corpus christi caller-times for The Victoria Advocate

Although Victoria wasn't chosen as the site for a multibillion dollar petrochemical plant, local officials have hope Victoria will land another large project soon.

ExxonMobil and Saudi Arabia Basic Industries Corporation announced Wednesday morning that San Patricio County is the site for the plant.

"Obviously now that it's official, I'm disappointed, but I'm not surprised based on the level of negotiation and due diligence that was being done in San Patricio County," said Dale Fowler, Victoria Economic Development Corporation president. "I anticipated this was the direction they were going. The good news is that we have developed a great relationship and friendship with the ExxonMobil folks."

Victoria County, San Patricio County as well as Ascension and St. James parishes in Louisiana were considered for the plant.

Now that the site selection is complete, ExxonMobil and Saudi Arabia Basic Industries Corporation officials will apply for air and wastewater permits from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, said Aaron Stryk, ExxonMobil spokesman.

The companies will make their final decisions on the investment after they are granted the required permits.

The Victoria community and Victoria Economic Development Corporation was supportive through the process and made company officials' final site selection difficult, Stryk said.

"The Victoria site has many good features and will make an attractive location for future proposed sites - both for us and others in industry," he said.

The petrochemical plant is one of 11 plants ExxonMobil will bring or expand along the Gulf of Mexico in the next 10 years investing $20 billion in local economies, Stryk said.

Although ExxonMobil officials have not announced any additional petrochemical facilities, according to the American Chemistry Council, 264 projects have been announced or proposed, Stryk said.

"We think Victoria, Texas, could be a viable candidate for many of those upcoming opportunities," he said.

The Victoria Economic Development Corporation will continue to stay in close contact with ExxonMobil officials, Fowler said.

The fact that company officials announced that Victoria was high on their list of sites made the county more visible to the petrochemical industry.

"It has paid off for us in the past - when we didn't get a certain project," he said. "If we handle that professionally and maintain the relationship, it leaves the door open for future opportunities."

Ben Zeller, Victoria County judge, said he saw the final site decision coming.

"Obviously we wanted it in Victoria and knew that it would be successful in Victoria," he said. "Just because this one wasn't in the cards doesn't mean the next one won't be."

Zeller agreed with Fowler that Victoria County has proved itself capable of handling a large project like the plant to the petrochemical industry, state and nation.

"Victoria County is a prime location for new business growth, and we will as a community and as a county continue actively marketing what we have," he said. "It will just be a matter of time before we're able to seal the deal on a big project like this."

The petrochemical industry is growing, Fowler said.

"Be aware we are continuing to do what we do, and that's market Victoria," Fowler said. "We have proof that Exxon thought that we had a viable site for that type of project."



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