Hobbs: I want to see 50, 80, percent of LNG construction jobs going to Valley workers

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – The executive director of Workforce Solutions Cameron says he is working to get far more construction workers from the Rio Grande Valley hired for the big LNG project at the Port of Brownsville.

In an exclusive audio interview with the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service, Pat Hobbs acknowledged that the minimum local talent Bechtel must hire for the building phase of NextDecade’s $18.4 billion liquefied natural gas export terminal is a minimum 35 percent. 

“Maybe we can hit 50 percent, 80 percent,” Hobbs said.

More than 5,000 workers are expected to be needed for the construction phase of the project. Construction could take five or six years. 

Hobbs predicted frenetic activity as Bechtel, the company NextDecade has hired to build Rio Grande LNG, gets moving on the project. 

“It’s gonna be a fury between now and the time they actually start. Now that they have that final investment decision things are gonna start popping. They’ll start having job fairs and we’ll help them with those, just to see what we can pull out of the woodwork.”

Hobbs said he hopes to persuade Bechtel to post all the job openings on the WSC website. 

Economic impact

Asked what the economic impact of the LNG project will be, Hobbs said: 

“18.4 billion dollars, that’s a massive amount. If $6 billion of it is construction costs, then that’s a massive influx of revenue money flowing through our economy, even if some of the workers are coming from external sources, say up and down the Gulf Coast,” Hobbs said.

“They (the construction workers hired by Bechtel) are still going eat here, live here, rent here, spend their money fishing on the island. You know, they’re going to spend a lot of that money here, if not all of it. So we’re in for a massive boost to our economy.”

Hobbs predicted that the arrival of the LNG project would cause wage rates for construction workers to rise across the Valley.

“We’re going to see a whole range of salaries across the area, especially in the skilled trades, move up several notches over that five-year, sixyear, period,” Hobbs said.

“Our welders that were making $12 an hour, now they’re going to be available at $25 an hour. That’s a 100 percent increase in their salaries. LNG has got to pay the money to attract the workers so that they can build the plant. It’s common economics.”

Hobbs continued: “If we’ve got $6 billion new dollars flowing through the economy as a result of higher wage rates being paid by the LNG then everybody gets a little piece of that action and everybody is going to benefit from that massive project.” 

Hobbs added: “They’re going to build a pipeline from Agua Dulce down to the port. That’s a massive project. Then they build a facility. That’s a massive project.  And then they operate the facility over 20 or 30. years. And it’s just going to be a constant stream of increased revenue for our economy.”

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