In a year that saw a lot of changes in the petrochemical industry in Texas City, Marathon’s takeover of BP’s Texas City refinery was the biggest. But it wasn’t the only big change on the industrial landscape in Texas City.
“This is the most new activity in the city’s industrial sector than we have seen in quite some time,” said Jimmy Hayley, president of the Texas City-La Marque Chamber of Commerce.
Rough estimates indicate that the combined new capital investments taking place in Texas City’s industrial sector will top $500 million over the next two to three years. And as the United States takes on a bigger role as the leading exporter of refined petrochemical products, it is likely Texas City will see steady industrial growth over the next several years.
Marathon’s Galveston Bay Refinery was part of a $2.7 billion deal that moved Marathon — which already had an 80,000-barrel-per-day refinery in Texas City — from the city’s third largest refinery to No. 1 with a combined refining capacity of 531,000 barrels per day.
Just across the road from Marathon Galveston Bay Refinery manager Ray Brooks’ office, crews are building a new central control center building. It will be the first time in the refinery’s 75-plus-year history that all units will be controlled from one place. The building, planned before Marathon agreed to buy the plant, is among the $400 million in capital projects planned for the 451,000-barrel-per-day refinery, company officials said.
Across the street from Marathon’s facilities sits Valero, which spent $36 million to build new support buildings, including a 171,796-square-foot service building that will replace three outdated buildings.
Eastman Chemical, which purchased Sterling Chemical in 2011, recently completed work on what had been a mothballed non-phthalate plasticizer unit.
The product — that goes by the market name Eastman 168 — makes PVC flexible and less of a toxin risk. It’s used in items such as medical tubing, toys and products in the beverage industry.
The project also saved 17 jobs that had been cut when the older unit was shut down under Sterling’s ownership.
Eastman also is making use of other spots at its Texas City plant. While not in the crude oil business, Eastman is leasing out and refurbishing a series of oil tanks and rebuilding access roads to create a terminal storage facility for crude oil for Genesis Energy.
Then there is Ashland Chemical, which in 2011 purchased ISP for $3.2 billion — and with it the company’s specialty chemicals plant on state Highway 146. The company is expanding its production of polyvinylpyrrolidone, a product used to help pharmaceutical companies make tablets, by building a $24 million unit that will connect to a similar unit built in 2005.
The Port of Texas City in 2012 used a $1 million federal grant to build a 4,000-square-foot security operations center at the main entrance to the port area. The Port of Texas City Security Council, which is comprised of the 14 businesses at the port, spent another $600,000 to expand the security check in at the main entrance as well as the turnaround to make it easier for the 200 trucks a day that go into the port.
There also were changes in the leadership posts at Texas City’s main industrial sites.
Eastman this year welcomed a new plant manager. Cari Parker, who took over the Texas City site after Eastman’s purchase, left for the company’s corporate offices in Tennessee. Shayne Cowan, who was the materials handling manager at Eastman’s plant in Longview, replaced Parker.
Brooks took over the Marathon Galveston Bay Refinery, replacing Keith Casey who had been the refinery manager under BP’s ownership and was responsible for overseeing the refinery’s $1 billion transformation and rebuild since 2005. Ryan McGill took over operations at Dow’s Texas City plant while Phillip Pitts was named the new manager at Praxair’s site.
Meanwhile J.W. “Scooter” Wilson, who is also a city commissioner in Texas City, was named the site leader for OilTanking’s Texas City terminal.