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Our history

Although it may not be evident from the expansive operations you see on-site today, one might say that the ExxonMobil Baytown area came from “humble beginnings."

However, back in 1919, there was no denying the groundbreaking nature of what was going on in the Baytown area. The directors of Humble Oil & Refining Company had made a decision, and their choice would not only create a bustling work-site environment but would lead to the emergence of several communities, and ultimately, to the dynamic and growing City of Baytown.

The site of what is now the ExxonMobil facility was chosen originally for its proximity to Humble Oil’s producing Goose Creek oil fields and to the ship channel, which would provide an excellent means of transportation for supply and product alike. The construction of the refinery attracted thousands of workers to the area and was a catalyst for growth. In 1920, the refinery began operations at 10,000 barrels of crude oil per day. By the late 1920s, the three distinct communities of Goose Creek, Pelly and Baytown came into existence. The communities depended heavily on Humble Oil for jobs and looked to the company as a social outlet and as an arbiter of community standards. In 1948, the three communities unified to what we know and call home today, the City of Baytown.

WWII contributions

During WWII, the refinery served the war-effort in several capacities and saw growth of its own. Research and development yielded the production of 100-octane aviation gasoline, and when the U.S. entered the war in 1941, the Baytown Refinery led the production of this fuel among all refineries around the world. In addition, toluene and synthetic rubber, called butyl rubber, were developed in the company’s research laboratories and aided in the formation of the site’s chemical division, which would later be extended to include both an olefins and plastics plant.

The refinery continued to operate under the Humble Oil name until 1972, when Standard Oil of New Jersey, the parent company of Humble, decided to create a single, distinctive identity to market themselves and their products. A study was conducted and resulted in the coining of the word “Exxon.” From then forward, Standard Oil of New Jersey became known as Exxon Corporation. The Baytown Refinery was no longer known as the “Humble Refinery” but rather as one of the refineries in the circuit of Exxon Company, U.S.A. With the name change in 1972, the chemical facility became known as Exxon Chemical, U.S.A.

ExxonMobil today

In 1999, Exxon and Mobil Oil merged to form what is today Exxon Mobil Corporation. Headquartered in Irving, Texas, ExxonMobil has a broad network of refinery and chemical facilities around the world. The ExxonMobil Baytown Area is proud to have one of 37 refineries and three of 80 chemical plants in the worldwide ExxonMobil network, as well as our world-class Baytown Technology & Engineering Complex. Today, the refining operation is known as the Baytown Refinery and the chemical facilities as Baytown Chemical Plant, Baytown Olefins Plant and the Mont Belvieu Plastics Plant.

Quick facts: Now and then

  • The founders of the Baytown Refinery originally planned for a capacity of 2,500 barrels of crude oil per day.
  • While the refinery began processing 10,000 barrels of crude a day when it started up in 1920, today, the Baytown Refinery has the ability to run 584,000 barrels of crude a day.
  • In 1919, there were 100 employees who worked in the refinery.
  • Today, there are nearly 4000 employees on-site in the ExxonMobil Baytown Area, with the number of contractors ranging daily.
  • Today, our Main Complex alone stretches across more than five square miles.
  • Humble Oil originally budgeted $8 million toward construction of the refinery and a pipeline.

Learn more about Baytown’s history in our 90th Anniversary Book.