Project makes Motiva Port Arthur country’s largest refinery
A crowd of dignitaries gathered in a massive white tent at the Motiva Refinery in Port Arthur on May 31 to celebrate the completion of a five-year construction project that made that facility the country’s largest oil refinery and one of the largest in the world. The landmark Crude Expansion Project more than doubled the facility’s daily processing capacity to 600,000 barrels of crude.
With more than 14,000 people working on the project at peak construction and more than 300 new permanent jobs, the expansion bolstered Motiva’s position as one of Port Arthur’s largest employers and a leading revenue source for the city, county and local public schools. The overall economic impact of the project in the region has been estimated in excess of $17 billion.
Executives of the companies that jointly own Motiva – Peter Voser, chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell; and Khalid Al-Falih, president and CEO, Saudi Aramco – turned the ceremonial valve commemorating the start of oil flowing through new processing units at the complex. At the event, Motiva CEO Bob Pease extended his thanks to Port Arthur and the surrounding region for their continued support of the project.
“This was truly a community effort that involved so many people and businesses in the Golden Triangle area of Southeast Texas,” said Pease. “The tremendous talent and skill of the employees and contractors who worked on the expansion, day in and day out; the quality of products and services provided by local suppliers; the enthusiasm and support of public officials and local community — All of these contributions came together to make this project a success.”
Pease also noted that the expanded refinery can process a wide variety of crude oils, ranging from relatively light to heavy. It also has the flexibility to switch between primarily producing gasoline and diesel to adapt to varying market conditions.
Al-Falih described the expansion project as a significant milestone of Saudi Aramco’s enduring energy ties with the United States.
“Our investment in Port Arthur is an integral part of Saudi Aramco’s global downstream expansion strategy. Our commitment to meet the needs of the United States’ oil market, our expanded stake in U.S. downstream, and our R&D investments in future transportation fuels will contribute to enhancing the United States’ long-term energy security – today, tomorrow, and for decades to come,” he said.
Al-Falih is a Saudi national with an extensive background in this country and a particular connection with Texas. A graduate of Texas A&M, Al-Falih noted that Texas companies and individuals have been in Saudi Arabia for eight decades, making the business and personal links extensive and lasting.
Royal Dutch Shell CEO Voser added, “Port Arthur’s expansion is central to Shell’s plans for selective downstream growth in North America. This refinery will make a major difference to our ability to process the lowest cost crudes to high quality oil products for our customers.”
The Port Arthur Refinery celebrated its 100th anniversary on Nov. 13, 2003.
It began operations as first refinery of The Texas Company (later Texaco) in 1903. It was a direct by-product of the Jan. 10, 1901, Lucas Gusher and the resulting Spindletop oil boom.
On Jan. 1, 1989, Saudi Refining Inc. purchased 50 percent of the Port Arthur Refinery as part of a joint venture with Texaco and Saudi Refining, and the refinery became known as Star Enterprise. On July 1, 1998, a joint venture was formed between Texaco, Saudi Refining and Shell Oil Co. under the name Motiva Enterprises LLC.
Headquartered in Houston, Motiva Enterprises LLC is a refining and marketing joint venture owned by affiliates of Shell and Saudi Aramco. Motiva’s marketing operations support a network of about 8,300 Shell-branded gasoline stations in the eastern and southern United States.
In 2001, Texaco was purchased by Chevron and its interest in Motiva was sold to Shell Oil and Saudi Refining Inc. The Port Arthur Refinery is still operated as Motiva, which is now jointly owned, with Shell Oil and Saudi Refining Inc. being 50/50 partners.
The refinery covers about 3,600 acres and is located in Jefferson County within the city limits of Port Arthur, between Highway 73 and Highway 87 on Savannah Avenue. It is the largest single lube plant in the United States, producing lubricant base oils that are sold to Shell Lubricants as well as various industrial companies. The refinery has a diverse workforce of about 1,300 full-time employees and more than 500 contractors on site each day.