Engineering News

Valero Kicks Off Port Arthur Expansion
Friday, August 15, 2008

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison believes in order to bring down prices at the pump, more refined petroleum products must be created in addition to more oil and gas extracted from the ground.

"We're in an energy crisis and we need our private corporations to increase production, and be creative to solve it," she said.

Hutchison was the keynote speaker for Wednesday's groundbreaking ceremony for the crude oil expansion project for the Valero Port Arthur Refinery. This $2.4 billion expansion will be the largest project for both Valero and the Port Arthur refinery.

Hutchison also said in her speech she favors the use of alternative fuels, but not using biofuels such as corn which could be used for the food supply. And she too, favors dredging Southeast Texas waterways so ships carrying larger capacities may load and unload in ports.

"The Gulf of Mexico is an economic development tool. Not only are we a tourist destination, but you can see parts of our nuclear power plants being built," she said.

Hutchison added corporations such as Valero were given tax incentives for economic development and how other great things are happening in Texas.

"We can increase our oil supplies and achieve energy independence in 10 years and be in control of own supplies," she said. "We're the greatest nation on earth and we can be the greatest nation on earth in perpetuity if we come together."

Port Arthur Mayor Deloris "Bobbie" Prince said she was extremely excited for the company's expansion project.

"I want to thank you for all you've done for the community. I was elected to the city council in 2004 and I've had wonderful relations with our industries," she said. "And Valero's profits goes back into the community. It's a better community for all the citizens. You have increased our quality of life."

Prince also thanked Hutchison for help after Hurricane Rita.

"I think she did it out of her heart and not for politics," Prince said. She then presented Hutchison with a key to the city.

Jefferson County Judge Ronald Walker announced to the audience it was a great day for Valero, a great day for Jefferson County, the state of Texas and for Walker personally.

Greg Gentry, Port Arthur Refinery general manager said in addition to increased productivity of a 50,000 barrel-per-day hydrocracker and a 45,000 barrel-per-day coker, 2,000 construction jobs at the peak of construction and over 30 permanent jobs created, he also mentioned his employees generosity.

"In 2008, our employees contributed $500,000 to United Way of South Jefferson County. The United Way's annual budget is $1 million; that's half of its budget," he said.

Gentry also spoke on the Valero San Antonio Open that raised $8 million for charity this year -- making it the largest charitable golf tournament in the U.S. He added the thousands of volunteer hours Valero employees contribute to charities and additional funds to other charities and non-profit organizations.

Source: The Port Arthur News/Texas Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

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