Celebrating economic growth and job creation

Baytown Olefins Plant 
Baytown, Texas

stephen d pryor
Stephen D. Pryor

President, ExxonMobil Chemical Company

Speech Aug. 22, 2014

Celebrating economic growth and job creation

Welcome, everyone.

I’m delighted to host this celebration of the start of our construction project.

In the next few minutes I want to tell you why we’re so excited about our chemical expansion here in Baytown. This project is ExxonMobil’s largest ever chemical investment in the United States. And we’ve designed it to be the most competitive new petrochemical project in the world.

It will also deliver extraordinary benefits to the greater Houston community.

For more than two years, we’ve spent countless hours reviewing our plans with regulators, political leaders, business associations, environmental groups, and the local community.

And thanks to your support, this important project is now a reality. We received our final permits back in May, and five days later, we were in the field driving piles. That’s what I call being shovel-ready.

So I want to thank all of you here for your confidence in ExxonMobil and for all you’ve done to clear the way so that we can move forward with this multi-billion dollar investment.

You understood the enormous economic benefits for the greater Houston area: 10,000 construction jobs and 4,000 permanent jobs in the community, including 350 new positions at the ExxonMobil Baytown complex.

The total increase in regional economic activity will be nearly one billion dollars per year, plus $90 million annually in local tax revenue.

You also understood that this could be accomplished in an environmentally responsible manner. And let me tell you what the EPA said in its press release announcing our permit. They said projects like this one -- and I really appreciate this quote -- “show that economic development and environmental protection can go hand-in-hand.”

And indeed it can.

The new facilities will be constructed within the fence line of our existing sites and with no increase in the permitted emission limits.

Imagine that! A new world-scale petrochemical plant with no increase in our permitted environmental footprint.

This remarkable achievement reflects our decision to invest in state-of-the-art technology.

It is also enabled by our track record of continuous environmental improvement at Baytown. Here, we’ve cut our air emissions in half since 2003.

And the story is even bigger than that.

We will not only manufacture these advanced plastics responsibly, but the products themselves will help our customers reduce their environmental impact. They will use our advanced plastics to make stronger, thinner packaging that reduces energy consumption, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and reduces waste.

Speaking personally, in my 40-plus years with ExxonMobil, I’ve never seen a project that has a better economic and environmental story. But my favorite chapter in this story is the one about people.

Skilled positions in the energy and chemical industries are in high demand and among the best-paid in the country.

Here in Texas, the average annual wage for chemical workers is nearly $100,000 -- more than twice the national average.

And to prepare our young people for these life-changing opportunities, ExxonMobil has partnered with nine area community colleges. We’ve created a new workforce training program for the Texas chemical industry.

These schools offer certification and degree programs for in-demand jobs like instrument technicians, machinists, welders, and pipefitters.

And with $1 million of support from ExxonMobil, the program will benefit 50,000 students and educators over the next five years.

ExxonMobil is proud to have received both state and national recognition for this vocational training initiative. We were named Employer of the Year by the Texas Workforce Commission. And a few months later, I traveled to Washington to accept an award from the National Association of Workforce Boards.

So how did this remarkable project come to be?

In short, it’s the story of U.S. natural gas.

Thousands of new jobs are coming to the Houston area, made possible by the abundance of U.S. natural gas and gas liquids developed from shale.

Shale gas is energizing the chemical industry, energizing the Port of Houston through increased chemical exports and, most importantly, energizing the Houston economy.

The shale energy era started right here in Texas. Today, Texas leads the U.S. in economic growth, thanks to the pro-business environment where companies like mine can invest. And that’s why ExxonMobil has invested more in Texas than anywhere in America and why we’re the state’s largest taxpayer.

ExxonMobil is proud to be America’s largest oil and natural gas producer and proud to be the country’s largest chemical company.

And we’re proud that the foundation of our global leadership is right here in the Lone Star state.

You can now see why today is such a celebration. It’s the best day I’ve had on the job in several years.

It’s also a great day for 30 talented Texans who are embarking on careers in our great industry. All of them have earned scholarships to the nine Houston-area community colleges offering the new workforce training.

So please join me in congratulating these members of our first class of petrochemical scholars. They will energize Houston and shape our energy future.

Watch the video of the Stephen Pryor speech, and learn more about ExxonMobil's operations in Baytown.

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