Raven Petroleum aims to build first new Texas refinery in decades

moore-at-table
Christopher Moore

The glut of fuel supplies in the United States isn’t stopping a new company in The Woodlands from building a new refinery in South Texas.

Houston native Christopher Moore recently formed Raven Petroleum to build a $500 million, 50,000-barrel-a-day refinery east of Laredo to export nearly all of its fuels to Mexico.

He’s hoping to become one of the first companies to build a large U.S. refinery in the past 40 years — taking advantage of the newly deregulated Mexican energy market and the surplus of Texas crude oil unlocked by the shale revolution.

“It makes sense from a logistical standpoint. We’re sitting right on top of our own feedstock,” Moore said. “We’re really seeing that (Mexico) demand. It’s materialized and escalated.”

The developing nation’s fuel consumption is growing about 3 percent annually, which is twice the global average, according to the Oliver Wyman consulting and research firm.

Rob Desai, an energy analyst at Edward Jones in St. Louis, says Raven Petroleum’s proposed South Texas Energy Complex can fill a unique niche.

“From the supply side it makes sense to build there (in South Texas),” Desai said. “The issue is demand. But there’s demand coming from Mexico. It seems a lot of the pieces are falling into place.”

With the puzzle pieces connecting, it makes sense that Moore would name the company for a Celtic raven that’s a symbol for divine providence.

The refinery project, which Moore wants to start building next year and open by the end of 2018, would create about 300 permanent jobs and 1,500 temporary construction positions.

But the big questions remaining are about financing, and for now he describes the project as having “one founder and one funder” — himself. “We’re looking at several debt financing sources,” he said. There’s no private equity backing “at this point,” he added.

But he says there’s no question that the project will proceed: “I’m all in.”

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