LAREDO, Texas – Business, governmental and educational leaders are exploring ways in which they could support the development of a proposed refinery in the South Texas region.
Raven Petroleum, L.L.C., is the company promoting the creation of a South Texas Energy Complex in Duval County.
“Raven is a newly formed development company that takes advantage of opportunities in the current gas and oil marketplace. Raven buys, sells, develops energy related properties. Projects include petroleum refineries, ethanol plants and natural gas operations,” the company states, on its official website.
The South Texas Energy Complex would be a $500 million crude oil refinery that would produce 50,000 barrels a day. It would generate 1,500 temporary construction jobs, and once it’s operating some 300 permanent jobs.
“The refinery would export almost all of its fuels to Mexico,” the company said in a statement.
On December 12, 2016, members of the Raven Petroleum South Texas Energy Complex Project Technical Workforce Committee and the Tri-County Coalition “met to discuss key strategic approaches toward providing critical academic, technical and workforce education and training opportunities for individuals situated in the counties of Duval, Jim Hogg, and Webb,” according to a press release by Laredo Community College (LCC).
The initiative has been in the works for over a year and, so far, the company is only waiting for a decision by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to move forward. The company needs the permits from TCEQ before it can continue with the project, said LCC’s executive director of economic development, Rodney H. Rodriguez.
“One of the things that will be a major impact in our region is the workforce, the surrounding counties’ infrastructure need to be ready for this possibility that might occur,” Rodriguez said in an interview with Rio Grande Guardian.
“Also, the educational sector. The he educational sector will be responsible for providing the required training to have the workforce ready to be able to meet the needs of the South Texas Energy Complex.”
Rodriguez added that the collaborative effort the involved parties have been making thus far is very critical in making the project a reality. For example, he mentioned meetings that have taken place between LCC President Dr. Ricardo J. Solis and Coastal Bend College President Dr. Beatriz T. Espinoza.
Rodriguez explained that even if at the end the project is not implemented, LCC will still implement the new curriculum to support those wanting to have a career in this area.
LCC started a “Raven Petroleum South Texas Energy Complex Technical Workforce Committee,” which, along with Workforce Solutions for South Texas, Tri-County Coalition, and the Coastal Bend Workforce Solution, have come together to pool resources in order to meet those needs.
“We are working on a curriculum to identify all the needs, because we do have the oil and gas curriculum already instituted,” said Rodriguez. “We have several programs that are already in the works, but there will be more specific targeted classes that we would need to do for the refinery.”
The Tri-County Coalition is composed by Duval County Judge Ricardo O. Carrillo, Jim Hogg County Judge Humberto Gonzalez, and Webb County Judge Tano Tijerina.
“It’s exciting, it would be a great economic development for our community. It’s a huge project and the first refinery in the United States in the last 40 years, so we are just glad it’s coming to our area,” said Gonzalez in a phone interview with the Rio Grande Guardian. “It’s a project that will impact our community and the region as well.”
Gonzalez explained that the Tri-County Coalition is looking to apply for funds so they can have workshops on how to start or expand businesses, in addition to holding job fairs.
“We just formalized the application to the Governor’s office for some funding and that would be at the end of January, and we project to have the first forum around June in Hebbronville and then a second one in Laredo,” Gonzalez said. “After these two forums take place, then we will have job fairs in Duval and Webb Counties.”
Gonzalez said the coalition hopes and believes the refinery will boost new businesses in the area like hotels, restaurants, and other services.
According to Rodriguez, Hebbronville hasn’t change in population in the last 30 years, so they need this change and opportunity.
“Hebbronville will be impacted the most because it is six miles from the site where the refinery would be placed,” Rodriguez said. “People in Laredo would be able to commute because is at around 50 miles.”
Tijerina said the benefit for Webb County would be the workforce, but he wants the company to educate the community about the business.
“I would say that 90 percent of the people that have come to me are for the refinery, and around ten percent would tell you that they’re are not against it, but they want to be educated,” Tijerina said. “I am not aware of everything to educate anybody yet so I am hoping that this company, whenever they do start, will come and speak to our constituents.”
Tijerina added that his number one priority is safety, but also mentioned he had a promise from Raven about the hiring of veterans to work at the refinery.
All parties involved are positive the refinery will happen, but understand there’s a process involved.
Carrillo, Gonzalez and Tijerina have met with Raven representatives in four occasions. A new information meeting will take place on Thursday, January 19, in the Hebbronville County Library, starting at 10 a.m.
Editor’s Note: The main photo accompanying this story shows Jim Hogg County Judge Humberto Gonzalez (third from right) delivering an overview on the Raven Refinery Project during an initial meeting held at Laredo Community College on Monday, Dec. 12 in the Elpha Lee West Building. Others present include, clockwise from top, LCC President Dr. Ricardo J. Solis, Duval County Judge Ricardo O. Carrillo, Gonzalez and LCC Board President Mercurio Martinez, Jr.
Join the fight against this proposed refinery!
Visit the Border Region Educational Action Team for a Healthy Environment’s “BREATHE, South Texas” Internet site at http://cleanairsouthtexas.com/
Visit the STAR (South Texans Against the Refinery) Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/STARCoalition/
Don’t forget our local Rio Grande Valley fight against the three LNG export companies seeking Federal Energy Regulatory Commission permission to build and operate at our local Port of Brownsville. These LNG operations plus our Port’s ramping up of its oil export capabilities would make our Port an inviting target for oil refineries as well. Visit and friend saveRGVfromLNG on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/saveRGVfromLNG/