TEXAS CITY — The plan to build a multibillion-dollar methanol plant in Texas City moved one step closer to reality with the city’s approval of a lease agreement with a Chinese partnership.
Commissioners approved a lease of property on Shoal Point that a partnership of a Chinese chemical firm and Chinese financial firm are considering for a location for the methanol plant.
Shoal Point is the 900-acre peninsula near the Texas City Dike the partnership is considering for the plant. The city owns about 375 acres of it, and the rest is controlled by the state.
According to the lease agreement, the Fund Connell USA Energy and Chemical Investment Corp. will pay the city $200,000 to lease the city-owned portion of Shoal Point for two years. It was not yet confirmed how much Connell plans to pay the state.
The next step is for the Chinese firms to conduct their studies and do their due diligence, said Nick Finan, city secretary in Texas City.
The Texas City location is one of two in the running for the facility. The other site is near Donaldsonville, La., officials have said.
Finan said now the city would need to wait and see what the Chinese firm decided. It could take the entire length of the two-year lease, but Finan said he hoped the decision would come back sooner.
“This is just an agreement for them to really figure out if there is anything out there they can move forward,” said Mayor Matt Doyle.
Methanol seems to be a popular export right now with at least 10 similar facilities being planned around the country, he said. Shoal Point could be a good location for one of those plants, he said.
While the city, county and state may all be working on economic incentives to help lure the project to the city, the plant would also provide jobs to the area if it were to go forward.
The project could bring as many as 1,000 direct jobs and 200 indirect jobs during construction and as many as 500 jobs once it’s up and running.
“It is an exciting time and if we can get there it will be great for the city,” Doyle said.