top of page
  • Adam C. Brooks

What the Chevron Phillips Expansion Really Means to Orange

Updated: Jan 14

by Ginger Broomes, Orange County Reporter


In a process that’s taken over seven years, Orange County finally got the go ahead for the new Chevron Phillips Plant Expansion in November of last year. We know the press release stats: 4,500 construction jobs, 500 full time workers once the plant is operational, and $50 billion in economic impacts to the county, over 20 years.


Now that the suspense of the Chevron Phillips (CPChem) location is over, what does the road ahead look like, not only in the county, but in the individual towns?


The CPChem expansion - now renamed the Golden Triangle Polymers plant - began ‘land improvements’ on a 1700-acre tract of land along Highway 87 between Orange and Bridge City a couple years ago, before November’s official announcement. Now, in January, the construction of the project will be gearing up, with the plant expected to begin operations in 2026.

image: Chevron Phillips

City and county leaders now have the task of preparing for the influx of thousands of workers and their families, in a county that has already seen and will see population growth not only with the polymers plant, but with Entergy’s power plant in Bridge City, the proposed Orange County Levee project and other industrial projects still in the discussion process.


How will this construction boom affect existing Orange County residents? In this first of a series of articles, we look at CPChem and the City of Orange.


Here is a breakdown of the impacts according to Orange City Manager Mike Kunst, and Heather Betancourth, Communications Lead for Golden Triangle Polymers Company (Chevron Phillips):


HOUSING AND INFRASTRUCTURE -


The influx of people will need some place to live. There are many new subdivisions going in countywide, but, Kunst said, “they’re not all there yet. And then there are the folks with an RV. “


“Some people will be here for months, some for a few years,” said Kunst. “Transient people who don’t have ties in this town. The good part is we can shine a light on our area, as we build these new subdivisions, as we improve what we do have. These people - if they stay here - will bring an influx of talent and families, create new jobs…all the good things we need.”


Kunst said there will be a challenge of ‘let us do what we want so we can build this’ (the plant), and he is concerned about what the community will look like once it’s built. Which is why he said Orange will ensure existing zoning and ordinances are enforced on things like building RV parks, and littering that comes with a sudden population increase.


Orange City Manager Mike Kunst (image: City of Orange)

“Through maintaining our ordinances and zoning, it’s still a community after the construction is over. The benefits of all these people coming in, is they’re spending money and living here and contributing to our schools. Orange wants to have a nice community built up so people driving in to work on the plant will want to live here.”


Although many housing developments have been going up in Orange County, they’re not quite ready for the boom that’s coming. And the boom that’s coming will be one that Orange hasn’t seen for generations.


“One of the first things Jay Trahan (Orange’s Director of Economic Development) told me when I came here, was that Orange changes every so often. First we had the forest industry, sawmills, then the shipbuilding industry, and then Dupont. So now this is coming in. And it changes, every few decades.”


“You can tell some of the home builders didn’t want to get ahead of themselves and were on pause until Chevron Phillips announced,” Kunst said. At a mayors’ meeting with CPChem in December, Craig Lemon, then the plant manager at the existing Orange Chevron Phillips plant, “told some of his higher ups ‘we need housing’. They said ‘why aren’t they building’? And he’s like, ‘why haven’t they announced?


“But with that, we have to have water and sewer, but again we don’t want to put it out too fast and we need the money for it. We have to be mindful of what we do, because we don’t want to make drainage worse. Through the Drainage District, we have to have a drainage system in place. When the developer comes to us, it has to go to the drainage district who has to approve the drainage plan.”


JOBS AND REVENUE -


In that same December meeting with CP Chem, Kunst said Craig Lemons stated that for every 1 job, there would be 17 support jobs.


“We certainly hope that people that live here are able to take advantage of these new jobs coming in, or support jobs. I know Dr. Johnson at Lamar (Lamar State College Orange) is training people for these jobs,” Kunst said.


Orange is looking to hire more city staff to meet the needs arising as a result of the polymers plant and other projects. Bilingual staff will be a bonus. More staff to look for things like water leaks, etc. In the meantime, Kunst said the City is working to retain their own staff by recently passing employee incentives based on education and residence.


He also stated property values will continue to increase with so many people moving into Orange County, as will the amount of businesses to be built. Kunst anticipates an increase in sales tax revenue over the next few years.


Chevron Phillips expects the peak of construction jobs to occur in late 2024 through mid-2025, according to Heather Betancourth, Communications Lead for Golden Triangle Polymers Company (Chevron Phillips).

Heather Betancourth, Golden Triangle Polymers

“Chevron Phillips Chemical will manage hiring and onboarding people to fill the full-time roles that will support the operations and maintenance of the facility once it’s complete. Details about those positions will be announced in the coming months.”


According to Betancourth, hiring local talent and supporting businesses in the area is important to Chevron Phillips Chemical, and will be critical to ensure the project is a success. Chevron Phillips is currently working with several community organizations to develop programs that will help area workers and businesses see and compete for available job opportunities. Some of these will be in the form of public job fairs and advertising jobs related to the project. Chevron Phillips will be announcing more about their workforce development plans in the coming months.


In the meantime, businesses interested in being considered for work on the project should first apply to be pre-screened by Chevron Phillips Chemical. Qualifying businesses who satisfy the company’s standards for service providers or suppliers will likely be added to an Approved Vendor List, which is then shared with the project’s primary contract companies. Businesses can apply at: https://www.cpchem.com/goldentrianglepolymers.


A website and social media sites for the Golden Triangle Polymers Company is in the works and will be announced and made public soon, per Betancourth.


The primary engineering and construction companies already selected by CPChem will conduct their own hiring processes. For those interested in construction-related jobs, those businesses are:


– ZDJV, a joint venture between Zachry Industrial Inc. (Zachry Group) and DL USA, Inc. - (construction of the polyethylene units)


–T.EN Stone & Weber Process Technology, Inc. (engineering of the furnace portion of the ethane cracker)


–PCL Industrial Construction Co. (construction of the furnace portion of the cracker)


– JKJV, a joint venture between JGC America, Inc. and Kiewit Energy Group, Inc., (engineering, procurement and construction for the additional portions of the ethane cracker)

–BMZ Third Coast Partners, a joint venture between Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company, Inc. and Zachry Industrial, Inc., (Zachry Group) (utilities and infrastructure scope of work)


– Emerson Process Management, LLLP (main automation contractor for the project)

·

–W.T. Byler Co., Inc. (heavy civil work for the entire site as well as engineering, procurement and construction services of the rail and storage-in-transit yard)


CONTROLLING TRAFFIC -


“We’re trying to ask the questions,” Kunst said. “Questions like where is all that traffic going? One concern I had was additional law enforcement. We have this influx of people who work long hard hours and get a day off. They’re going to do stuff to blow off steam. Are we ready for that? We’re not saying all of them will be like that. But it will happen.”

Kunst said he’s already been discussing with Orange Police Chief Lane Martin the need to hire more police officers. And working with the streets department and CPChem regarding the increase in traffic.

“We need to identify places people drive to that are shortcuts. If there’s a wreck on 16th, or on I-10, locals will know the roads to take to bypass that. We’re looking at those roads to see if culverts need replacing, and we’ll need to coordinate with other communities to fix roads that people use for shortcuts. Chevron Phillips also wants to have regular meetings with the different municipalities to determine how to handle traffic.”


Meanwhile, Betancourth said TXDOT has been working closely with CPChem on how best to manage traffic during the project.


“We expect a coordinated multi-agency effort among private and public organizations to ensure the community is fully aware of conditions on public roadways.”


“We are proud of the long history we have in the community of Orange and are thrilled to be bringing jobs and resources to the region. Chevron Phillips Chemical is collaborating

with the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce to host regular meetings with city, county and community leaders. These meetings will facilitate open discussion about the project and community concerns through the duration of construction.”



bottom of page