The South Texas Economic Development Alliance endorsed the proposed South Texas Energy Complex, a high-technology petroleum refinery that Houston-based Raven Petroleum is planning to build in Duval County.

STED is an economic development organization comprised of cities and counties throughout South Texas whose mission is to work collaboratively with public and private institutions and agencies to promote economic development in South Texas. On Monday, representatives from Webb, Duval, Jim Hogg, Brooks, Zapata, La Salle and Jim Wells counties joined efforts with STED during a press conference.

“The South Texas Economic Development Alliance is supportive of bringing new economic development to our communities, and we are supporting the South Texas Energy Complex,” said Marissa Yvette Utley, STED spokesperson. “The South Texas Energy Project has the chance to be the cleanest technology refinery in the world, with almost net-zero emissions. It’s the right balance between economic development and the environment, and it’s ideal for our region, adding value to our natural resources, creating jobs for our community and serving nearby markets.”

Jim Hogg County Judge Humberto Gonzalez also spoke about the opportunity their communities have with the South Texas Energy Project.

"This community is excited about the South Texas Energy Complex and we are ready to give our full support as a community to make this project happen. The critics who are not from our county or our community will continue their attacks for their own selfish reasons which have nothing to do with environmental or safety concerns but rather financial gain," Gonzalez said. "We will continue to help prepare our citizens and businesses to meet the challenge that is ahead of us."

South Texas produces light sweet crude, which is shipped to traditional refineries in Corpus Christi and Houston for refining. The South Texas Energy Complex will utilize new technologies for clean energy, such as geothermal power and natural gas, and carbon capture technology to reduce emissions, and an on-site brackish water desalination plant will provide sustainable water solutions within the refining process.

The petroleum products produced will then be marketed primarily to the emerging markets of Mexico.

“We see this as a win-win-win,” said Utley. “The region wins investment and jobs, the energy industry has a strong new player and the environment is protected. They’ve demonstrated to us the environmental protections, set backs and wildlife management programs to give us confidence.” 

Utley said STED is also happy that the new plant will bring medical services, fire and safety support to the community, as part of the plant’s safety programs. 

Based upon construction estimates, and studies by Workforce Solutions and EMSI, the refinery project, which Raven Petroleum wants to start building in 2017 and open by the end of 2018, would create about 350 permanent jobs and 1,800 temporary construction positions.

Utley said this project has the potential to revitalize the South Texas region dramatically.

“But it’s important to remember that this project is just beginning, and any economic development or business activity doesn’t just happen overnight, it takes time, planning, designing and engineering,” she said. 

Raven Petroleum, has yet to file a permit to begin construction, but Utley said it’s expected permit applications will be filed once design-engineering is completed.

“Our meetings with them over the past month have centered on what our community can do to help bring the project to fruition, what kinds of contractors and what kinds of jobs,” Utley said. “We are confident in the South Texas Energy Complex, and want to see it here in our region.”