By Camaron Abundes
FORT STOCKTON- The boom and bust on the oil patch isn't slowing a $1.3 billion dollar project outside of Fort Stockton. The towering cranes and feverish construction is good sight for Tomas Larralde, Senator Carlos Uresti's Chief of Staff who made a stop in Fort Stockton to meet with city leaders.
"It comes at a critical time." Larralde said local leaders have focused on economic development and job creation.
"We're not waiting for stimulus. We're moving forward with jobs and hopefully putting money in the people's pockets so they can spend and help the economy grow not only here but throughout West Texas," he said.
City leaders say the Century Gas Plant is the second largest project in the state at $1.3 billion dollars. Sandridge Energy, Inc. will eventually pipe it's natural gas from Pinon field east of the site and Occidental Petroleum Corporation will run the gas plant. Currently 150 employees have been hired by International Alliance Group (IAG) based out of Houston which is building the plant.
"The drilling is down pretty much in all West Texas. They're going to employ people to work there. It's going to help our economy stay stable," Mayor Ruben Falcon said.
Construction is only 15 percent complete but crews have projected the plant will be online by Summer 2010. At the site, crews will use equipment to separate out Methane and CO2 to be shipped and sold around the country.
Company officials say they've brought in specialists but IAG is hiring many workers from West Texas through Work Force Solutions.
"Oil field workers, they're very familiar with what we do. There is work available," Jon Tanner, resident engineer for IAG, said.
In November, Tanner says the number of construction jobs on the project will more than double to 400.