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Exxon Mobil plans multi-billion dollar plant near Texas Gulf

PORTLAND, Texas (AP) — Exxon Mobil Corp. and a Saudi partner plan to build a multi-billion dollar petrochemical plant near the Texas coast, Texas’ governor said Wednesday.

The project will be a venture involving Exxon and Saudi Arabia Basic Industries Corp. Exxon officials have said it’ll be among the largest ethane steam cracker plants in the world, with an opening scheduled for 2024.

The plant will be built in Portland, just north of Corpus Christi, on roughly 1,300 acres (526 hectares). Estimated to cost about $10 billion, the plant will produce components used to make polyester, anti-freeze, plastic bottles and other items.

In formally announcing the project, Gov. Greg Abbott said the plant “illustrates that our business climate is exactly what leading and growing companies are seeking when investing in their future.” Yousef Abdullah Al-Benyan, CEO of SABIC, added: “We are focused on geographic diversification to supply new markets.”

Exxon and its Saudi partner also considered another Texas site and two in Louisiana for the project.

The project has received state and local tax incentives. The Gregory-Portland Independent School District board voted last month to approve $1.2 billion in tax incentives, and San Patricio County commissioners OK’d a $210 million package. Abbott said Wednesday that more than $6 million was offered in state tax breaks.

Officials said the project is expected to create thousands of jobs, an important consideration for leaders in San Patricio County. The Corpus Christer Caller-Times reported the area lost more than 800 jobs in the last three months of 2016 with the closure of a plant and a series of layoffs at a manufacturing company.

But the project has also generated criticism. Some residents circulated a petition citing safety and environmental concerns. The plant is set to be built less than 2 miles (3.22 kilometers) from the district high school.

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