The Port Arthur News
PORT NECHES —
Huntsman Corporation in Port Neches is preparing for the addition of a new unit and an expansion of its ethylene oxide manufacturing capacity that will bring jobs to the area as well as pumping money into the local economy.
The $125 million expansion, of which $20 to $30 million has already been spent, will add upwards of 325 temporary construction jobs at it speak as well as 10 full time Huntsman positions. So far two of those full-time positions have been filled. There will also be five to 10 ancillary positions added as well, Dan Kemp, director of manufacturing, said.
A groundbreaking for the project is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday at the site on Spur 136.
“Ninety percent of the total spent to date has been pumped back into the local economy,” Kemp said. “It’s one of the things we promised the county, that we will spend a majority of the money in Jefferson County.”
Fred Jackson, assistant to Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick, said the county is excited about Huntsman’s investment and what it means to the area.
“Part of our abatement policy is to encourage local investment whether it be through contractors, suppliers or local labor so whenever the commissioners are discussing an abatement we want to extract a promise from a business to use all reasonable measures to hire people in our area,” Jackson said. “We understand that sometimes there are certain things that can’t be supplied locally in some instances.”
The abatement agreement stipulates the first two years the taxes would be abated at 100 percent then 90 percent for the third year and 60 percent on the last year. A tax abatement is used to increase economic development by lowering the property taxes of a company for a time period usually lasting between 10 to 20 years. The intent of an abatement is to lower operation costs for a company that will provide a viable service, additional jobs and more tax dollars to a region.
The Huntsman Port Neches expansion will increase the facility’s EO capacity by more than 25 percent, or 265 million pounds per year. The existing EO capacity is one billion pounds annually. The expansion will make the Port Neches facility the largest single-site producer of EO in North America.
Kemp said this marks the first new unit/major project at the facility in almost 20 years.
Huntsman purchased an ethylene oxide unit from a Beaumont based ethylene glycol producer after the unit was flooded during Hurricane Ike in 2008.
“After performing extensive engineering assessments and environmental, health and safety due diligence, Huntsman dismantled the unit and transported the components down the Neches River by barge for installation at its Port Neches facility,” according to a press release from Huntsman. “The acquisition enables Huntsman to expand its EO capacity quickly and cost effectively, compared to a traditional ‘greenfield’ approach.”