ExxonMobil and Saudi Arabia Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) announced plans Wednesday to build the world’s largest ethylene cracker, a $10 billion petrochemical plant, in San Patricio County.

The plant, which will be constructed on a 1,300 acre parcel of land near Portland, Texas, will produce 1.8 million tons of ethylene each year in addition to mono-ethylene and polyethylene.

Chris Ramirez, business reporter for the Corpus Christi Caller, says that the petrochemicals produced by the plant are widely used in manufacturing.

“Those are substances, believe it or not, that are used to make anything from clothing to bottles to even something as big as construction materials,” Ramirez says, “So they’re very much a part of our lives.”

The construction of the plant has been received with both enthusiasm and trepidation by Portland residents. In an area that has faced particularly difficult economic hardships, supporters welcome the potential for job creation.

ExxonMobil and SABIC have estimated that the project will create 11,000 construction jobs and 600 permanent jobs, with permanent employees earning approximately $90,000 a year.

Opponents of the plant say that noise and sight pollution are primary concerns in addition to a strain on local water resources.

“That plant itself is going to consume roughly 20 million gallons of water per day so there are people in these communities that are saying, ‘that’s a lot of water that could be diverted from our drinking taps,'” Ramirez says.

San Patricio County was chosen as the best location for the plant over other counties in Texas, and sites in Louisiana because of its proximity to a deep-water port and access to an intricate network of pipelines already in place.
Written by Emma Whalen.

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