When I heard from the guest speaker at the Texas City-La Marque Community Advisory Council that his company was going to make anhydrous ammonia in Texas City, my first reaction was shock.
How ironic is that? But I was thinking wrongly, of course.
Texas City succumbed to ammonium nitrate, which isn’t nearly the same thing. Though both are part of the fertilizer family.
Andrew Connolly, a speaker for Air Products/Gulf Coast Ammonia, told members of the committee at its recent meeting about plans for the new plant, a new lay-down yard for equipment and a new pipeline.
The company began in 1940 as an oxygen generator and has plants all over, including Baytown and Houston.
The pipeline he described will carry chemicals from Baytown to Texas City under Galveston Bay.
The Texas City facility will be on land near the port. All the old-timers around here will recognize it as part of what used to be Monsanto. After that, it was Sterling. Now it’s Eastman.
And that’s another interesting part of the latest meeting of the committee. The last meeting was in January 2020, so we’ve all been through a lot and getting to see old friends was a joy.
Chairman José Boix posted a big logo for our meeting featuring the city’s Phoenix fountain, in honor of our rebirth.
A lot of the meeting was getting to meet new people because almost everybody who’s a manager or a CEO or in any other position of authority is a newly named person. And if you’ve been around Texas City for any time at all, you also know that all the local petrochemical facilities have changed names. Many of them several times.
When I arrived on the scene, we had Union Carbide, AMOCO Oil and Amoco Chemicals, Marathon, Texas City Refining and Monsanto. Do you know all their names today? Marathon has stayed the same, yet grown enormously.
The anhydrous ammonia made here will not only be part of fertilizer manufacturing elsewhere but will be provided to the local industries that need it.
In addition to the pipeline, the product will be transported by ship and barge. So the Port of Texas City is ideal, of course.
Construction of the plant isn’t underway in Texas City so far, but equipment is being trucked into the lay-down area east of Bay Street. When workers are needed, they will be bused in to alleviate a traffic problem.
The plant is expected to provide about 1,000 construction jobs and then only about 40 permanent ones. It’s destined to be very safe, with hurricane and high-water protection, strong double-walled steel storage tanks and steel pipes.
Construction is planned to begin in November or December. Getting the job done is expected to take a couple of years, and the value of the property is expected to yield about $600 million in tax values.