TEXAS CITY — The plans for SSA Marine to build a multimillion-dollar megaport near the Texas City Dike are now officially sunk. Still, Shoal Point may find new life as a multibillion-dollar methanol plant.
City commissioners are expected to approve a mutual termination agreement with SSA Marine, ending the Seattle-based marine company’s exclusive rights to develop Shoal Point, a 900-acre peninsula that sits along the Texas City Ship Channel near the dike.
While the megaport is not coming, city and county economic officials are hoping a Chinese-owned firm will soon confirm its plans to build a $2 billion to $4 billion methanol plant on the site.
In 2004, SSA Marine broke ground on what was promised to be a bustling container terminal within 10 years. It was supposed to take advantage of a widened Panama Canal, which is slated to open next year.
The company, operating as Texas City Terminal Holdings LLC, reached an exclusive lease agreement with the city and the Texas General Land Office. The city owns 300 acres, while the remaining 600 acres are controlled by the state.
Plans for the megaport, which was to be called the Texas City International Terminal, never materialized. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deepened the channel in that area to 45 feet, and city officials waited — and waited — for construction.
While the company performed some groundwork on the property, no structures were built and the project languished.
Still, SSA Marine made annual payments of $100,000 to the state and $30,000 to the city to hold on to its rights to the property. When the opportunity came to lure the Chinese firm to the property, Mayor Matt Doyle worked to unwind the deal.
The state has approved the mutual termination agreement. Texas City commissioners will have their say today.
SSA Marine did not return calls from The Daily News.
“Everybody gave it a good try — it just never panned out,” Doyle said. “Now we can go out, market it ourselves and hope to make something happen.
“It’s a wonderful piece of property. It just takes the right fit.”
That fit may be in the form of Connell Chemical Industry Inc. The Chinese firm was looking at two sites for a methanol plant. One is in Louisiana, and the other is Shoal Point.
Company officials, including Chairwoman Song Zhiping, met with city, county, school district and college officials last month. A team of engineers has been in town since that meeting researching the site.
The city and county are putting together an economic incentive package that could include tax abatements and infrastructure enhancements. Galveston County Economic Alliance’s new executive director, Bix Rathburn, brokered the deal. Rathburn did not respond to Daily News requests for comment.
Doyle and County Judge Mark Henry confirmed that company officials are scheduled to meet with the city and county this week, and some sort of announcement could be around the corner.
If constructed, the plant would provide hundreds of construction jobs and about 600 full-time employees, Doyle said.
Connell has ordered about 60 new ships to take products from its methanol plant to China and elsewhere.
At a glance
WHAT: Texas City City Commission meeting
WHEN: 5 p.m. today
WHERE: City Hall, 1801 Ninth Ave. N.