of THE TEXAS COMPANY
PORT ARTHUR WORKS Refinery
by Elton N. Gish
The Port Arthur Works was a
direct by-product of the January 10, 1901, Lucas gusher and the resulting
Spindletop oil boom at Beaumont. Over 200 companies sprang up from the
Spindletop oil boom, but only a handful of them was still in business 50 years
later. Familiar local companies born of Spindletop black gold were the Gulf Oil
Corp. and The Texas Company, with the latter being the only survivor today. The
Texas Company was renamed Texaco, Inc. in 1959. From modest beginnings in 1902
with the construction of The Texas Company’s first refinery, Port Arthur
Works, an international, major oil company was born. On January 1, 1989, Saudi
Refining, Inc. purchased 50% of Texaco’s Port Arthur refinery as part of a
joint venture with Texaco. This joint venture, known as Star Enterprise,
includes two other Texaco refineries in Convent, LA and Delaware City, DE and
all of Texaco’s marketing in southeastern U. S. Later this year, a new
alliance between Texaco, Shell Oil Co., and Saudi Aramco will be formed. This
new alliance will be called Motiva Enterprises LLC.
On January 10, 1901, the
world famous Lucas gusher shot a stream of black crude oil high above the
derrick confirming Pattillo Higgins’ prophecy of oil under the hill on Spindle
Top Heights, later known simply as Spindletop. The geyser of oil flowed out of
the 6-inch casing pipe for ten days at a rate of 70,000 to 100,000 barrels per
day and collected in a temporary reservoir hastily constructed by building up
earthen levees around the growing pool of oil. After the Hamill brothers
successfully capped the gusher, an oil boom like no other witnessed swelled the
size of Beaumont from 8,000 residents to more than 50,000 in a few months.
Investors and men of vision rushed to Beaumont to see if they could take
advantage of the new oil discovery. By the end of 1901, there were over 100
wells at Spindletop many of them located on "doormat" size pieces of
land barely large enough for the derrick and drilling equipment.
The most significant company
started during the Spindletop oil boom was The Texas Company. The new company
was formed primarily by the efforts of two dissimilar men, J. S. Cullinan and
Arnold Schlaet. Cullinan worked in the Pennsylvania oil industry and later went
to Corsicana, Texas about 1898 when oil was first discovered in that district
where he became the most prosperous operator in the field. He formed the
Petroleum Iron Works, building oil storage tanks in the area. When the
Spindletop boom came in January 1901, Mr. Cullinan decided to visit Beaumont.
Schlaet managed the oil business of the Lapham brothers, who were New York
leather merchants. Schlaet’s field superintendent, Charles Miller, traveled to
Beaumont in 1901 to witness the Spindletop activity and met with Cullinan whom
he knew from the oil business in Pennsylvania. He liked Cullinan’s plans and
asked Schlaet to join them in Beaumont.
Two enterprising Texans,
former Texas Governor J. S. Hogg and J. W. Swayne, were very active in the
Spindletop development under the business name of Hogg-Swayne Syndicate.
However, they did not have a market for their oil or a method of getting it to a
point of shipment. They acquired land for a pumping station near Spindletop and
for a refinery at Port Arthur. They also constructed storage tanks and started
to lay a pipeline to Port Arthur where Spindletop crude could be loaded in
barges or ships. Hogg and Swayne turned to Cullinan for his knowledge of the oil
industry. Together they formed the Texas Fuel Company on March 28, 1901 with an
investment of $25,000 from Hogg and Swayne and $25,000 from Schlaet and the
Lapham brothers to market Spindletop crude oil. The holdings of The Texas Fuel
Company initially consisted of 40 acres of land and a 37,500-barrel tank at the
Port Arthur refinery site, and two 37,500-barrel tanks 1-1/2 miles from
Spindletop known as Garrison Station. A contract awarded to Jack Ennis called
for the completion of a 6-inch pipeline to the Port Arthur refinery site and on
to the future location of Port Arthur Terminal. Early in 1902, thirteen
37,500-barrel tanks were constructed at Garrison Station and eight 37,500-barrel
tanks (Nos. 15-22) at Port Arthur, and the company entered into negotiations for
erection of a loading dock at Port Arthur Terminal.
The Texas Fuel Company went
into business on January 2, 1902, with little cash at its disposal. The new
company purchased land for a refinery site at Port Arthur, two tanks, and a
quantity of pipe for a pipeline from Spindletop to Port Arthur at a cost of
$39,695. Since The Texas Fuel Company was not set up to drill wells and produce
crude oil, Cullinan organized the Producers Oil Company on January 17, 1902, as
an affiliate of The Texas Fuel Company. John W. (bet-a-million) Gates and other
prominent men invested about $90,000 in "certificates of interest" in
the new company. In February 1902, The Texas Fuel Company opened its first
office in a small wood-frame, corrugated iron building on Laurel Street in
Beaumont that was called the Exall Building. One individual described Laurel
Street as "the worst kind of a mud hole lying between the front door (of
the Company office building) and the Southern Pacific railroad a few feet
away." The Company occupied three rooms on the ground floor on the west
side of the building and one room in the upper story. The entire office staff
consisted of T. J. Donoghue, G. M. Worthington, A. C. Talbot, F. W. Freeman, A.
C. Miglietta, C. D. Stillman (a surveying engineer), and J. S. Cullinan. In
October 1902, the office moved to twelve rooms on two floors of the
"Temperance Hall Building" in downtown Beaumont. In 1908, the
Company’s general offices moved to Houston.
In 1902, Spindletop produced
about 17,500,000 barrels of crude oil with only 1,000,000 additional barrels
produced in the rest of Texas. The Texas Fuel Company, capitalized at $50,000,
was far too small to carry out the grand plans of Cullinan and Schlaet to market
Spindletop crude. The Company needed much more investment capital to complete
the pipeline and build a refinery. In March 1902, a new corporation, named The
Texas Company, took over the assets of The Texas Fuel Company valued at
$1,250,000. The transfer of assets to the new company occurred on March 21. On
April 7, 1902, The Texas Company incorporated with a capitalization of
$3,000,000. The stockholders of The Texas Fuel Company ratified the March 21
agreement on April 29 with all assets transferred to The Texas Company on April
The Texas Company’s first
pipeline from Spindletop was completed to nearby railway loading stations of
Garrison and Nederland on May 16, 1902, and to Port Arthur in August. The
loading terminal at Port Arthur was opened on September 29. More than two dozen
steel tanks were built at Garrison and Nederland stations along with one earthen
tank with a capacity of 103,000 barrels. Earthen tanks were simply open
rectangular-shaped reservoirs made by scraping out the local gumbo clay to form
earthen levees to contain the crude oil. Several such earthen tanks were
constructed in 1920 at the Port Neches refinery with wooden roofs (covered with
roll roofing) built over them to keep out rain water. Spindletop crude was
purchased for three to five cents per barrel and transported by tank cars and a
400-foot wooden vessel, Texas Barge No. 1, from Port Arthur to the Amesville, LA
terminal where it was sold to northern refiners and railroads. Cullinan soon
obtained contracts to sell crude at $1.00 per barrel to Mississippi River sugar
plantations to be used as boiler fuel to replace higher cost coal. The first
barge shipment of crude was loaded at Port Arthur the end of September 1902 and
was delivered to the Magnolia Plantation on the lower Mississippi River. With
the opening of transportation facilities, crude prices increased dramatically to
an average of 21 cents per barrel in 1902.
The first shipment of crude
oil came from four 1600-barrel wooden tanks owned by the Hogg-Swayne Syndicate.
The oil flowed through an 8-inch pipeline 1-1/2 miles to Garrison Station where
a steam pump filled steel tanks. The oil was then pumped through the 6-inch
pipeline to tanks at the Port Arthur refinery site. Two 80 horsepower boilers
furnished steam for two pumps that pumped the crude oil through a 6-inch line to
the dock for loading purposes. Port Arthur Terminal was not in existence at that
time and the oil was pumped directly from eight tanks (Nos. 15-22) to the boats.
The engineers at Garrison Station were E. H. Buckner and Tim Mullin. J. C.
Colligan was the engineer that loaded the first boatload of oil delivered from
Port Arthur by The Texas Company. Mr. Colligan recalled very distinctly the
"fight we had to put up against the mosquitoes" and another fight to
keep the pumps going because of the foaming of the steam boilers caused by the
salt water. Fresh water was not readily available for the boilers so they had to
use "briny water picked up from the marshes". In order to complete the
loading of the first cargo of oil, it was necessary to inject a little crude oil
into the boilers about every thirty minutes to prevent foaming.
The first land purchase for
the site of the new refinery, called Port Arthur Works, was made on February 18,
1902. The Texas Fuel Company bought 25.1 acres at the end of Houston Avenue from
the Port Arthur Land Company for $100 an acre. There was nothing on this land at
the time except for a small brickyard surrounded by bulrushes and salt marsh.
Forty additional acres were purchased from E. J. Marshall on March 7 for $6,245,
and another 25 acres were bought from the Port Arthur Land Co. on June 6. During
1902, a total of 90.1 acres of land had been purchased at an average price of
$124.92 per acre. Over the next 18 years, another 3,470 acres were purchased
from the Port Arthur Land Co. at an average price of about $27.65 per acre.
Acquisition of land currently totals about 5,000 acres. On November 22, 1902,
the first appropriation was made for the construction of a $150,000 refinery and
$20,000 asphalt plant at the Port Arthur Works. Asphalt (purchased from the Gulf
Refining Co. in Port Arthur) was the first product sold by The Texas Company in
February 1903 long before the refinery was ready to operate. The Port Arthur
Works refinery started operating on November 13, 1903, with the following: two
1,000-barrel shell stills for distilling crude oil, two asphalt stills, two
burning oil agitators, an acid plant, barrel house, machine shop, and a small
office building. The refinery produced about 1,000 barrels of products per day.
The only products made that first year were distillates, fuel oil, residuum, and
asphalt. In 1903, the refinery charge 43,200 barrels of crude and produced
21,872 barrels of distillates, 10,873 barrels of fuel oil, 9,655 barrels of
residuum, and 1,724 tons of asphalt. The word "Texaco", first used as
a product name on December 21, 1902, originated as a telegraph address in
Schlaet’s New York office. The Company registered the name Texaco in 1906 as a
trademark. The red star and green "T" trademark, registered in 1909,
was first used on March 24, 1909.
In 1904, the refinery
processed 318,364 barrels in its first full year of operation. In comparison,
current crude running at the Port Arthur refinery is about 89 million barrels
per year. By the end of 1903, the total investment at the refinery was $465,195.
The refinery primarily operated for the production of fuel oil, and it was later
in 1904 before any gasoline or kerosene was manufactured. In 1904, the yield of
gasoline was 1.18%, kerosene 1.01%, asphalt 13.7%, with distillates and fuel oil
yielding over 80%. The large quantities of distillates (gasoline fractions) were
sold mainly as Solar Oils that were used by gas utility companies to enrich gas
used in lighting city streets and in home cooking.
Mr. R. C. Holmes was the
first Refinery Superintendent and Manager of the Refining Department. Mr. F. T.
Manley entered the service at Port Arthur Works in December 1902. His history
with the Company resembles the Horatio Alger hero, from Office Boy to President.
Mr. Manley in the space of 24 years, 1902 to 1926, rose from his first position
of three jobs in one, Pumper, Yard Foreman and Skipper of the yacht "Texas
Girl", to Vice President of The Texas Company.
In 1922, S. C. Fox recalled
when he arrived at Port Arthur Works in May 1903 you could "see bald
prairie at every point on the compass". Fox worked at the Asphalt Plant at
Port Arthur Works. Just across the road from No. 1 Boiler House were two
500-barrel stills with two cooling tanks that would explode occasionally, that
is, "whenever they felt like it -- they blew themselves all out of
shape". At that time, "the only way the stillman had for testing the
asphalt was by chewing; if it crumpled in the mouth it was too hard; if it stuck
to the teeth it was too soft. It simply had to be chewed without any bad
results; then we all chewed it." Behind No. 1 Boiler House was a small pond
that use to be a clay pit for making bricks. Water for the boilers came from the
The Texas Company's
supply of crude was cut off when the Spindletop wells suddenly stopped flowing
in the fall of 1902 soon after the field caught fire in September. Without a
flow of crude the new Company would soon fail to meet its obligations.
Compressed air was used to "blow" the field in a futile attempt to
restore flow from the wells, but salt water quickly invaded the wells.
Production dropped from 62,000 barrels a day to 20,000 barrels a day and fell to
5,000 barrels a day a year later. The Texas Company had an option to purchase
the 865-acre tract at Sour Lake (about 20 miles northwest of Spindletop) for
$1,000,000. The option was about to expire when the third and last test well
blew in a gusher on January 8, 1903. A million dollars to exercise the option
had to be found quickly. J. W. Gates and his friends furnished $590,000 in
exchange for Company stock and the Lapham group came in for $350,000. Others
funded the remainder and the option closed for only $900,000 because of a
possible flaw in the title. This new, abundant supply of crude oil saved the
company from bankruptcy. Later in 1903, additional oilfields were discovered in
nearby Saratoga and Batson and another Spindletop-size discovery was made in
Jennings, LA. The Company’s subsidiary, Producers Oil Company, held major
interests in all of these new discoveries and made welcomed profits for the
By 1904, Port Arthur
Works employed 89 people and added the production of gasoline, kerosene and lube
oil. When the first lubrication pale oils were produced on the old East Side
Lube Stills, Mr. Dellinger was Still Foreman, and Mr. Repschleger was Stillman.
Mr. Repschleger recalled how at that time, when 100 barrels of on-test oil were
produced in a day, it was sufficient occasion for a party. It was the practice
at that time to work fourteen hours a day for two weeks and then ten hours a day
for the next two weeks. By 1905, the refinery had saturated existing domestic
markets with products. The refinery started shipments abroad after the Company
formed the Continental Petroleum Company to handle foreign trade and opened
their first foreign terminal in Antwerp, Belgium, on September 29, 1905.
On September 1, 1906, The
Texas Company purchased from the Central Asphalt & Refining Company their
asphalt refinery at Port Neches. Expansion of that refinery soon made it the
largest asphalt plant in the world, with a capacity of over 25,000 tons per
month, and it maintained that distinction for many years. The manufacture of
asphalt at Port Arthur Works ceased a few years later. Much of the asphalt
produced at Port Neches Works was shipped in wooden barrels produced in their
own cooper shop. In addition, tar paper, slate coated roll roofing and asphalt
shingles were produced from the early 1920’s until the late 1950’s.
Construction of new
facilities at Port Arthur Works continued at a rapid pace. A permanent brick and
concrete office building was constructed in 1906. The Grease Plant was
constructed in 1910 as were several new operating units, boilerhouses, and
buildings. At the end of 1910, Port Arthur Works had grown to 501.32 acres.
There were 392 employees earning $24,928 per month. Plant investment had grown
to $1,800,000. The volume of crude charged in 1910 was 1,668,186 barrels.
In 1908, naphtha (gasoline)
was used in cooking stoves, illuminating torches, industrial engines, and a
small amount found a new use in automobile engines. However, the most promising
outlet for naphtha was in paint manufacture. Large quantities of naphtha were
sold as a turpentine substitute, and it was used as a solvent in paint, varnish,
and lacquers. The trade name of this naphtha was Texine and a special 4-inch
pipeline was installed to the Port Arthur Terminal to load ships and barges. In
1911, there were fewer than 1 million automobiles in this country and a growing
demand for gasoline. In that year, the Company offered three grades of gasoline,
and it was no longer considered a waste product.
In September 1908,
construction of the first Can and Casing Plant was begun at Port Arthur Terminal
with manufacturing operations started in the spring of 1909. The plant was
destroyed by fire in March 1910. Rebuilding using fireproof concrete
construction was completed 60 days after the fire. The Shook Mill (for cutting
and preparing boards for boxes) and the Box Factory (for printing and nailing
the shipping boxes) were built in 1912 to supply wooden cases for shipping cans
of lubricating oil, kerosene (for lamps and stoves), and naphtha all over the
world. "Oil for the lamps of China" was shipped to the Far East under
many trade names such as Yin Foo Brand (meaning Good Luck), Sing Brand (meaning
Star), and Scale Brand (the "Scale" marking denotes the Chinese
"Justice" in quality and quantity). The four-story Specialty Can
Factory was constructed in 1915, and a 3-story Employee’s Service and Lunch
Building was built in 1920. More than 1,000 women and men worked in the shook
mill, box factory, canning factory, and filling rooms all operated by the Case
& Package Division and later under the subsidiary name, the Texaco Can Co.
The cans were manufactured
from thin sheet metal lithograph printed with the latest eye-catching designs
incorporating the famous Texaco red star and green "T" trademark. The
printed sheet metal was cut, formed into desired shapes by machines, fastened
together by applying solder to the seams (one time done entirely by hand),
filled using the latest automatic filling machines (some of which were designed
by canning plant employees), put into wooden cases, lids nailed on, and loaded
aboard trains and ships. All empty cans, filled cans, and finished wooden boxes
traveled on an endless system of overhead chutes and conveyors. In 1916, a
unique spiral conveyor was purchased that could be lowered into the hold of a
ship, dramatically decreasing the time required for loading. A typical ship
would hold 174,000 cases containing 1,740,000 gallons of burning oil and other
products bound for China, Europe, the Middle East, South America, Africa,
Australia, or other foreign destinations. In the 1940’s, wooden boxes became
too expensive and were replaced by cardboard boxes. Many sizes and shapes of
cans were manufactured for Texaco products from tiny 3-oz home lube cans with
long metal spouts to large square 5-gallon cans. Cans for other oil companies
and companies packaging syrup, coffee, cooking oil, and frozen eggs were also
manufactured. The last metal cans, round 1-gallon Havoline cans, were
manufactured in November 1984. All blending and filling operations at Port
Arthur were discontinued shortly thereafter when modern facilities were
constructed at key terminals around the country.
Metal Texaco cans shipped to
the far reaches of the world found additional uses through the efforts of
ingenious individuals. One Brazilian man formed a durable sprinkler out of a
5-gallon can. In China, cans and boxes were converted into various household
tools (such as dustpans, food boxes, oil lamps, and candlesticks), ornaments,
and toys of every description. Wooden boxes were converted to chairs, desks, and
tables just to name a few items.
In 1912, lubricating oils
were obtained from asphalt base crude oil because they contained small
quantities of wax or paraffin. However, the best quality lubricating oil could
be obtained from waxy paraffin base crude. Facilities were constructed that year
to remove the wax from paraffin base lube oils in order to produce a higher
quality product. In 1914, much of the by-product wax was used in a line of
products called "Qckwork Metal Polish". Many of the metal "Qckwork"
cans had a picture of a man polishing a car with the caption, "It Sure Is
Quickwork". "Qckwork" was produced in both liquid and paste form
from 1914 until it was discontinued in 1923. After that, most of the wax was
used in Texaco Liquid Wax Dressing for polishing floors.
Early Tuesday morning,
August 17, 1915, a great hurricane hit the Port Arthur area, and the storm surge
flooded the entire refinery. For the first time since the refinery started in
1903, all of the units in the refinery shut down and remained down for ten days.
For several days after the storm was over, the only satisfactory means of
getting around the plant was by motor boat. Before the storm, a 37,500-barrel
tank (No. 1169), located at the rear of the West Side Coke Stills, had been
disconnected from its lines in preparation of doing some repair work on it. When
the storm hit and the water started to rise, the tank was still empty and
disconnected, and the water rose to such an extent that it floated the tank off
its foundation. The tank drifted away on the water about ten miles to near
Nederland. The water rose quickly to a level of four feet at the office and was
still at a level of two feet nine days later. About 1,500 citizens of Port
Arthur evacuated to the refinery where most spent from 3 to 4 days living in the
barrelhouse and other buildings. Reportedly, three children were born during
that week. On August 21, 1915, No. 3 Boilerhouse was started in preparation for
restarting the refinery. The water level reached four feet in the plant and did
not completely recede until September 2. No storm insurance was carried on the
equipment, and to make matters worse, the city of Port Arthur did not have any
pumping equipment. A system of levees was constructed the following year, and
the city later passed a bond issue to construct a levee system of its own.
employee’s mother, Mrs. Leona Follett, recalls today how, as a little girl,
her parents seeking protection from the storm floated her in a wash tub to The
Texas Company. The following was taken from a diary kept at Port Arthur Works
during the days of the hurricane:
Monday, August 16:
"Great storm scare in town last night, but no real trouble yet. Wireless
reports from Gulf warn us to expect high wind and water. This morning windy, but
only occasional showers. Wind rose after noon, rain set in steadily, both
increasing rapidly to alarming extent. All lights out about 9:30. People moving
to high ground and brick buildings."
Tuesday, August 17:
"Wind at maximum about 2:30 a.m., when lake came over banks and began
creeping inland. People near the Works began flocking to our concrete
warehouses, just ahead of the water. Texaco trucks and wagons moving everybody
until water was too high. At 8 a.m. water came over the Kansas City Southern and
Texas & New Orleans R. R. tracks and rose rapidly all over the plant. By
noon practically all first floors were under water, all boiler houses flooded,
all stills cold. For the first time since this was a refinery all fires are out.
Wind and rain continuous and violent."
A report to Company
Management dated August 29, 1915, had some interesting details about the storm
and its aftermath:
12:30 a.m. on the morning of August 16th, a general alarm of an
impending hurricane was spread over the City of Port Arthur at the
instigation of Mayor R. H. Dunn. People immediately sought refuge in the
more substantial building, such as the Custom House, DeQueen School
building, High School, Dallas Avenue School, and the Port Arthur
velocity of the wind from 12:00 o’clock midnight Sunday to 4:00 p.m.
Monday averaged from five to ten miles, after which time the increase in
velocity was extended; a conservative estimate of the blow at 6:00 p.m.
Monday being about 50 miles. By jets, the wind has been approximated to
have reached a velocity of 90 miles an hour between 3:30 and 5:00 a.m.
Tuesday Aug. 17th, from which time on it slowly abated, and
Wednesday about 5:00 a.m. averaged 10 to 20 miles per hour."
at first, were not permitted in the Plant upon advice of Mr. Smith, the
idea being that if a fire started in the Works with oil flowing on the
water, a great loss of life would be a certainty; however, they gained an
entrance by various means, and were quartered in the Barrelhouse, Grease
Plant, Filter Building, Wax Storehouse, Can Factory, Filling Room, and
Cooper Shop. An estimate of 1,500 people has been generously accepted as
the number taking refuge in this Plant."
Aug. 17th: Highest winds probably at 2:30 a.m., when wind
changed to Southwest. Most people came into the Plant from Stillwell
Heights about 3:30 a.m. T. T. Co. wagons were used to haul then until the
water became too high for the horses. Water came of levees about 8:00 a.m.
At 10:30, water had risen to a depth of about two feet. Wind and rain
continued through Tuesday night."
Aug. 18th: At 12:45 a.m. Laughlin’s Lumber yard in town
caught fire. Launch Nabob was put in running order. Mr. Manley arrived,
and returned to Beaumont to order food. Rain, but no heavy wind."
Aug. 19th: An early morning storm caused tank #648 to flash.
Barrel house was cleaned and thoroughly disinfected."
of the rumored danger of fire, the refugees started leaving for Beaumont,
and their homes at Noon Aug. 18th, and by Noon Aug. 22nd,
all buildings were practically vacated. Mr. Smith, upon his arrival on the
scene advised their leaving for higher territory account of the
possibility of a pestilence from infection which follows in the wake of
diseased debris floating on top of the water, and, also on account of the
danger of fire, at the same time stating that all refugees would receive
every attention through the relief Committee at Beaumont. About twenty
cases of Malaria Fever and three cases of Measles were found among the
refugees. Though disputed, three births occurred in the Barrel House
during the storm period."
Up until the time of the 1915 hurricane, all shift men were
working 12-hour shifts, and at shift changing time, they worked twenty-four
hours straight through. Shift men received an average rate of 30 cents an hour
while day men were being paid 25 and 27.5 cents per hour. Shift jobs were at a
premium, and most day men wanted to be transferred to shift jobs in order to
receive the higher rate and work longer hours. The day men were working 9-hour
days at that time. After the flood, however, the whole plant was put on an
8-hour basis, including the shift men. At that time there was a lot of talk
among the employees about the Company going broke due to changing from twelve to
In 1920, the employees decided that there was a need for a
convenient place to purchase quality groceries at reasonable prices. Goods were
to be sold at cost plus a reasonable percent to cover the cost of management and
expenses with the intent that prices would be lower than prevailing local prices
(typical savings of 18-20%). The Magnolia Refining Co. (now Mobil) refinery in
Beaumont had recently organized an employee’s cooperative store for just such
purpose. In 1920, The Texas Company employees organized "The Cooperative
Association", commonly referred to as the Texaco Employees Co-operative
Store. Stock was sold for $10 per share (only one share per employee) with a
capitalization of approximately $18,000 and the affairs of the store were under
the direction of an elected board of directors. The Company was not financially
responsible for the store or its operation; however, it did take an active
interest with much behind-the-scenes participation. A small two-story wooden
building near the Main Gate on the north side of Houston Ave. (next to the
railroad track) was purchased and converted to a store. The store opened for
business on "Thursday March 15, 1920" (date given in March 22, 1920
memo is actually a Monday). They divided the store into several departments such
as dry goods, grocery, fruit and vegetable, meat, tobacco and candy, and cold
drink stand (serving cold drinks, coffee and hot dogs) that could be purchased
with coupons. The Articles of Association stated that script or coupon books
would be sold at a discount each quarter. The amount of the discount varied each
quarter dependent upon the expenses and retained profits needed to maintain the
store. New employees could purchase a $10 refundable membership giving him the
privilege of purchasing items from the Co-op Store below prevailing market
The Co-op Store soon outgrew the small wooden building. Plans
for a larger permanent building began as early as 1924; however, it is not known
when the new building was completed. One photograph dated April 4, 1930, shows
the completed building. It is clear from the color of the stucco that a new
addition had recently been made on the west side of the original building
indicating the new building was constructed a few years earlier. The concrete
stucco building faced Houston Ave. on the north side with 19th Street
running along the east side of the building with the address 2058 Houston Ave. A
photograph taken on July 14, 1937, showed an employee’s Texaco filling station
located about where the old Co-op Store stood.
On Friday March 11, 1960, the stockholders of the Cooperative
Assoc. voted to dissolve and liquidated the store. The association had over
1,600 members and sold groceries, dry goods, hardware, and drugs. The President
of the association, George Adams, said that "in the past the store did a
tremendous business, but in the last few years, due to competition, business has
dropped to such a state that the board feels the concern should be
liquidated." George Sladczyk, Jr. was attorney for the association and
published a list of all shareholders in the April 14, 1960, Port Arthur News.
The Cooperative Association was officially dissolved on July 23, 1960. The
shareholders received a check payment for their share of the association.
In the early 1920’s, the Company opened two new cafeterias
for the benefit of the employees: the Central Cafeteria and the West Side
Cafeteria. The West Side Cafeteria was open 24 hours per day. The cafeterias had
a combined seating for 1000 persons with meals being served at cost and smoking
permitted in all during the noon lunch hour and supper hour in the evening.
Below is a menu from December 16, 1923:
steak and potatoes -- 35 cents
steak and potatoes -- 30 cents
pork chop and potatoes -- 25 cents
pork chops and potatoes -- 30 cents
or sausage and eggs -- 25 cents
toast -- 15 cents
The growing demand for gasoline for automobiles threatened to
limit the growth of The Texas Company. In 1901, the entire production of
gasoline in the U. S. was less than 7 million barrels (42 gallons per barrel);
in 1910, it was less than 15 million barrels; and in 1920, production had
increased to 116 million barrels. Mexican crude contained a naturally higher
portion of gasoline. Importation of that crude began in 1918. However, The Texas
Co. faced strong competition from the batch thermal cracking process developed
by Dr. Burton of the Standard Oil Co. of Indiana in 1913. The Burton thermal
cracking process produced an even larger percentage of gasoline from crude than
was naturally present but had the disadvantage of being a batch process rather
than a continuous process. The thermal cracking process uses high temperatures
and high pressures to break or cut long chains (molecules) of carbon atoms (in
heavy components of crude oil) into smaller molecules of carbon atoms. These
smaller carbon molecules are components in gasoline, propane, butane, and fuel
gas. Cracking the heavier, longer molecules of crude allows a higher yield of
more profitable gasoline and a lower yield of less profitable fuel oil. An added
benefit is the gasoline produced has a much higher octane, too.
The Texas Company purchased the J. H. Adams patents for
liquid-phase thermal cracking and proceeded to convert the patents into a new
continuous thermal cracking process. At Port Arthur Works, experiments were
conducted by R. C. Holmes (Vice President in 1913, then head of the Refining
Dept., and later elected President of the Company in 1926) and F. T. Manley (a
laborer in 1902, engineer of the yacht "Texas Girl", then yard
foreman, later head of the Refining Dept., and elected Vice President of the
Company) to develop the continuous thermal cracking process using the Adams
patents. Neither man had attended college. In 1918, The Texas Company put into
operation at Port Arthur Works the first experimental continuous thermal
cracking unit in the U.S. This process increased the quantity of gasoline that
could be produced from a barrel of crude. It was later called the Holmes-Manley
Vertical Still (HMVS) in honor of the two employees who developed the commercial
process. The first commercial HMVS battery started operating at 12:01 a.m. on
February 8, 1920. The first run on the HMVS lasted for 60 hours, and then the
unit was shut down to clean out the coke. A great expansion of facilities was
once again underway to meet the rapidly increasing demand for gasoline. Within
18 months, there were 24 HMVS batteries. By 1927, there were 74 HMVS batteries
in operation. The gasoline yield from a barrel of crude was increased from 24.2%
before the HMVS batteries to 61.5% in 1927.
In 1923, the worst HMVS fire in the history of Port Arthur
Works occurred when HMVS Battery 28 exploded and burned. Before the fire could
be brought under control, three other batteries were almost totally destroyed.
Nine men were killed in this one catastrophe. For many days afterward, it was
difficult to get enough men together to operate the pressure stills. Many of the
problems associated with the HMVS batteries were from the use of large screwed
pipe for the high-pressure service. The introduction of welded pipe and fittings
dramatically reduced the hazards of working these units.
Another problem involved plant losses. After the
Holmes-Manley batteries started operation, plant losses increased rapidly. In
1919 before the first thermal cracking battery had started up, the total volume
loss was 3.7% of the crude oil charged to the plant. However, in 1920, this loss
had increased to 6.6%. By 1921, the West Side Gas Plant was in operation, but so
were several more HMVS batteries. The gas plant could not keep up with the
increased load, and plant losses were 8.7% in 1921. The maximum number of
barrels lost (most of it as gas) in any one year was nearly 1.3 million barrels
in 1925 or 8.3% loss basis crude. These losses were eventually brought under
control by the installation of adequate gas plant facilities, gasoline
stabilization equipment, absorbers, and a revised absorption oil stripping
plant. By 1927, plant losses were under control. The yearly volume loss was only
142,000 barrels or less than 1% of crude oil charged.
At the end of 1920, Port Arthur Works had grown to 4,623
acres. There were 3,223 employees earning $464,000 per month. Plant investment
had grown to over $19 million. The volume of crude charge in 1920 was 12,914,000
Technical advances were also being made in developing
processes for making better lubricating oils and greases at Port Arthur Works,
The Texas Company’s only lube plant. Most of the lubricating oils used in
automobiles were made from Pennsylvania crude oils because of its naturally low
wax content, but they were comparatively dark in color. Texaco lube oils, made
from Texas and South Louisiana crudes, were lighter in color. Oddly, customers
preferred darker oils. The Company decided to advertise their lighter oils as
"Texaco Motor Oil -- Clean, Clear, Golden", and displayed them in
glass bottles at service stations. Customers were quick to see the difference
and demand for lubricating oils increased from 266,000 barrels in 1914 to
1,511,000 barrels in 1920.
In 1921, No. 4 Boiler Plant was built, and, during the
following year, a general plant lighting system was installed. In addition, Port
Arthur Works installed a materials recovery plant and storage yard. Since that
time, recycling of materials for reuse or sale has played a big part in holding
down costs and reducing the discarding of useable materials. The policy of
economy was an ever-present watchword as it still is today. Two interesting
early examples were remembered in the magazine, The Texaco Star, issued in
February 1930. The first story relates how "Jack Collins, veteran of the
acid plant, recalls vividly the ceremony necessary to obtain a pencil: An
exhaustive account always had to be given regarding the last one issued, and the
stub had to be submitted as evidence." The second story in that same issue
recalls, "Daddy Deady, as brickmason foreman, one day sent out a hurry call
for enough lumber with which to build a scaffold. C. C. "Daddy"
Blackman [then superintendent of Port Arthur Works (1906-1909)] assembled
several men and took them out to a bridge a few miles from the Works.
"There’s your scaffolding," he told them. "When you’re
through using it, bring the lumber back here and re-build the bridge."
Although there were increases in the crude running capacity
during the early 1920's, most of the investment money served to shift the
product distribution and improve product quality. This enabled the refinery to
shift the distribution of products to sell more of either burning oils or
gasoline, whichever the market demanded.
In May 1926, Texaco introduced a revolutionary improved
quality gasoline called "Texaco New and Better Gasoline". With the new
HMVS batteries in full operation and most of the distillation towers equipped
with efficient bubble cap trays, the end point of gasoline was reduced from 437
to 400 degrees F. This change in product quality brought about a vast
improvement in gasoline sales.
In 1928, there were twelve coke stills in operation. The
production of petroleum coke was becoming a burden, because no market was
available for this product. In that year, the four boilers in No. 4 Boiler House
were converted from burning fuel gas to burning coke.
In 1929, there was another revolutionary development in
refinery operations. Prior to, 1929, all crude oil had been distilled on shell
stills which was a very inefficient method of distillation to separate the
various products from crude oil. Shell stills were simply interconnected
horizontal, cylindrical vessels (shells) with a firebox under each vessel. Crude
entering the first vessel would boil off light vapors and the liquid flowed over
a baffle to the next vessel operating at a higher temperature. Each succeeding
vessel or shell would boil off heavier fractions from the crude until the liquid
leaving the last shell was reduced to a heavy fuel oil. In 1929, the refinery
installed the first pipe stills for distilling crude oil. The crude oil was
heated in fired heaters composed of many bends and runs of pipe. The heated oil
was then routed to an atmospheric tower equipped with bubble cap trays that
efficiently distilled off fuel gas, propane, butane, gasoline, kerosene, and
light gas oil fractions. The bottom stream from the atmospheric tower was then
heated further in another fired heater and charged to a vacuum tower, also
equipped with bubble cap trays, where additional gas oil fractions were produced
under vacuum distillation. The first pipe stills installed at Port Arthur Works
were Badger Pipe Stills Nos. 1 and 2 and Lummus Pipe Stills Nos. 1 and 2. All
four of these units were completed in 1929. Consequently, the Shell Stills used
for distilling crude oil, and the shell stills used for coke stilling
operations, were doomed by technological progress.
In October 1929, there was a serious economic collapse. The
ensuing depression, with its ever-increasing debt, brought about the closing of
numerous banks, the collapse of industry, and the spread of unemployment.
Management could do little else during this period than take a defensive action
in order to persevere for its employees. The Texas Company made a profit in
1930; however, it operated at a loss during the next three years. The Company
decided to put most of the employees at Port Arthur Works and Port Neches Works
on a shorter work schedule rather than enact a layoff.
Another major catastrophe occurred in 1930. At 4:28 p.m. on
the afternoon of June 11, 1930, the Burning Oil Agitators caught fire and were
destroyed. The fire started when a railroad switch engine crossed a ditch
containing gasoline from a leak in one of the agitator lines. The gasoline was
ignited from a spark or from the fire in the locomotive firebox. The fire spread
quickly and burned for 36 hours. One man was killed and fourteen others were
hospitalized. Fortunately, the four new crude pipe stills were doing an
excellent job of fractionation. It was no longer necessary to steam still
gasoline and kerosene to remove light ends. Consequently, the West Side Steam
Stills were taken over and converted to Burning Oil Agitators. The steam stills
were used until new agitators could be built.
In 1930, a new Cooperage and Compounding Building (C. &
C. Bldg.), two Pressure Coke Stills and the deFlorez Cracking Unit were
completed. In the C. & C. Bldg. and the adjacent Case Oil Filling Building
and Grease Plant, approximately 475 grades of lubricating oils and more than 100
grades of grease were compounded, packaged, and loaded for shipment. At the end
of 1930, the plant had grown to about 4,700 acres. There were 3,286 employees
earning a total of $471,430 per month. Plant investment had grown to nearly $56
million. Little investment money was spent in 1931 and 1932. The volume of crude
charged in 1930 was 17,610,000 barrels. In an effort to offset the effects of
the depression, the Company introduced Texaco Fire Chief Gasoline in 1932 with a
big fanfare of advertising, including a radio comedy show with Ed Wynn as the
Also in 1932, Texaco began promoting its automobile chassis
grease, Marfak. The name Marfak continued a tradition of naming Texaco products
after stars in honor of its red star and green "T" trademark. Other
products named for stars are Ursa, Crater, Algol, Vega, Meropa, and Spica. All
of these products were manufactured, packaged, and shipped at Port Arthur Works.
It was during the years of chaos between 1930-1933 that the
first unions were formed for the purpose of collective bargaining. The National
Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) of 1933 resulted in the development of the
employee representation plan at Port Arthur Works. The first formal step toward
actual installation of the plan was taken on July 5, 1933. At this time, the
procedures for elections were set forth, and supervisors and foremen
participated in daily meetings in order to plan operations and explain the
reasons for, and purpose behind, various plans and operations. The employee
representation plan was discontinued in 1937. However, the employee's collective
bargaining agency, operating under the new Wagner Act, succeeded the employee
representation plan. Elections were held in June 1937 to establish a new
collective bargaining agent. During the 6-year period from 1933 to 1939, the
collective bargaining procedure produced the following employee benefits:
Life Insurance and Pension Plan
and Sick Benefit Plan
Duty Pay Plan
of Plant Working Rules
in working conditions
Job Rates of Pay
general wage increases
During the late 1920's, the technological advances in
refining were shifting emphasis from gasoline production to additional
lubricating oil manufacture. Only a limited number of crude oils were suitable
for the manufacture of high quality lubricating oils, and the demand for
lubricating oils was beginning to exceed Port Arthur Works ability to
manufacture the volume required. Facilities to manufacture lubricating oils were
expanded during 1930. The Cold Treating Plant was enlarged, and a new North Side
Stripping Unit, Clay Treating Plant, and Contact Filter Plant No. 2 were
completed along with No. 19 Pumphouse to handle lubricating oils.
The demand for improved lubricating oils was a constant
concern for the Company. Egon Eichwald of Hamburg, Germany obtained a patent in
1925 for a solvent refining process using furfural (a byproduct of oat
processing). The Company purchased the rights to the patent and began
experimenting on ways to turn it into a commercial process. Furfural refining
could produce a higher quality lubricating oil but an efficient dewaxing process
had not been found. The Indian Refining Company in Lawrenceville, IL had
developed a solvent dewaxing process that they used to manufacture their Waxfree
Havoline Motor Oil. The process used benzene and acetone as solvents. This
process was needed in order to complete the Company’s plans for improving the
quality of its lubricating oils. On January 14, 1931, The Texas Company acquired
the majority control of the Indian Refining Company in an exchange of stock, and
with it the refinery at Lawrenceville, the solvent dewaxing process, and the
trademark "Havoline". The furfural refining process was developed and
construction of the first furfural refining unit (FRU) was completed at the
Indian Lawrenceville refinery on November 8, 1933. Together with the Indian
Refining Co. solvent dewaxing unit (SDU) constructed in 1927, the new lube
processing units greatly improved the quality of lubricating oil. The new oil
produced was introduced in 1934 and marketed as Texaco’s premium motor oil
under the name "Texaco Havoline Waxfree Motor Oil". This new oil was
of outstanding quality and gained rapid acceptance.
In 1935, new lubricating oil manufacturing units were
installed at Port Arthur Works to match those at the Indian refinery in
Lawrenceville. The construction of Furfural Refining Unit (FRU) No. 1, Solvent
Dewaxing Unit (SDU) No. 1 (solvent changed to MEK and toluene), and Propane
Deasphalting Unit (PDU) No. 1 was completed. With this new equipment,
lubricating oil could be produced from marginal (cheaper) crudes run at Port
Arthur Works with much less concern over the type of crude charged. The new lube
production at Port Arthur Works helped to meet the growing demand for the new
"Texaco Havoline Waxfree Motor Oil".
There was widespread market acceptance of the new lubricating
oils manufactured by the solvent refining and solvent dewaxing processes.
Consequently, FRU No. 2, SDU No. 2, and PDU No. 2 were all built in 1938 in
order to keep up with the demand for "New Texaco Motor Oil" introduced
in 1936. Solvent refining could produce better quality lubricating oils than
that obtained from unrefined Pennsylvania crude oils. Within a very short time,
it became necessary to solvent refine the Pennsylvania oils in order to produce
a lubricating oil of competitive quality. The Texas Company’s solvent refining
and solvent dewaxing processes and technology have been licensed to companies
all over the world.
During the period from 1935 to 1940, there was a rapid
increase in the quality, as well as the quantity, of lubricating oils
manufactured at Port Arthur Works. Badger Pipe Still No. 3 was completed in 1937
in order to produce additional raw materials for manufacturing lubricating oils.
Also during this period, there was a continual shift in capacity limitations
between lube oil processing units. Numerous technical changes were made to
overcome capacity limitations and to increase the capacity of all of equipment.
The gas produced in the cracking operation contained large
quantities of propylene and butylene. Polymerization Unit No. 1 was built in
1936 to convert (polymerize) these gases into motor gasoline. This unit was
converted to computer control in the late 1950's. This was the first processing
unit in the world to use computer control. The computer was donated to the
Smithsonian Institute in the 1970's.
During the latter part of the 1930's, the demand for
lubricating oils had been met by new refining processes. Now the emphasis was
shifting to the production of aviation gasoline. The technical personnel at Port
Arthur Works were actively engaged in developing an alkylation process. This
process used sulfuric acid as a catalyst to convert butylene and isobutane into
gasoline of extremely high octane. Alkylation Unit No. 1 was completed in 1939
to produce a premium quality aviation gasoline.
In 1939, facilities were installed to inject a chemical
compound into the gasoline to inhibit the formation of gum deposits. The gum
inhibitors proved to be very successful. Within a short time, the steam stills
were no longer needed to manufacture a stable cracked gasoline.
In 1940, Port Arthur Works installed an automatic telephone
system and a new Machine Shop. At the end of 1940, Port Arthur Works had grown
to about 5,000 acres. There were 3,897 employees earning $604,000 per month.
Plant investment had grown to nearly $63 million. The volume of crude charged in
1940 was 35,214,000 barrels.
In 1938, the Central Locker Building (Employee’s Building)
was built so the employees would have a modern facility to shower and change
clothes. In 1941, Port Arthur Works built a new Main Office Building to satisfy
the needs of the growing plant. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on
December 7, 1941, numerous construction projects were started in order to
produce materials needed for the war effort. In the years 1942-1943, the
Polymerization Unit No. 1 was converted to manufacture cumene for aviation
gasoline and the Isomerization Unit was completed. Alkylation Unit No. 2 started
operations in April 1943. Unseen corrosion on Alkylation Unit No. 2 caused an
explosion and fire on December 28, 1943. Three men were fatally burned.
Alkylation Unit No. 3 was started up in October 1943. It operated throughout the
war period without incident.
By 1940, a new cracking process was threatening the supremacy
of the HMVS thermal cracking process. The new process used a powdered catalyst
that behaved like a fluid. The process produced a higher octane gasoline and
allowed the product distribution to be varied. As a result of the tremendous
demand for aviation gasoline during World War II, the development of the Fluid
Catalytic Cracking Process was quite rapid. At the outset of World War II, a
number of companies pooled their patents on the catalytic cracking process under
the U.S. government sponsorship. Among the companies participating in this
agreement were The Texas Company, M. W. Kellogg Co., Universal Oil Products, and
the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey. This group studied all of the catalytic
cracking processes and concluded that the war effort could be served best by
building large Fluid Catalytic Cracking Units (FCCU). The first commercial unit
in the country was put into operation in 1942.
FCCU No. 1 was completed and put into operation on March 3,
1944 and FCCU No. 2 was started on April 10, 1944. After the FCCU’s had been
started up, Port Arthur Works began shipping butylene to the Neches Butane
Products Co. for the manufacture of synthetic rubber.
During World War II, the Japanese cut off the supply of
natural rubber from the Far East. Synthetic rubber could be made from butadiene,
a chemical made from butylene (one of the byproducts of the cracking process).
Five refineries in Jefferson County, The Texas Company, Atlantic Refining Co.,
Gulf Oil Corp., Pure Oil Co., and Socony-Vacuum Oil Co., Inc. (Magnolia Refining
Co., now Mobil), exchanged their scientific knowledge to increase the supply of
butylene for the production of both aviation gasoline and synthetic rubber. In
March 1942, the five companies worked together to organize a non-profit
corporation named Neches Butane Products Co., which produced butadiene from
butylene and employed 1,000 people. The plant was built by the government (under
the name of Defense Plant Corporation) at Port Neches and started operation on
May 25, 1944. Rubber manufacturing plants were constructed nearby to convert the
butadiene to synthetic rubber. The companies involved in the project did not
receive any profit or fee for operating the plant. The Neches Butane plant was
designed to produce 100,000 tons of butadiene per year but actually produced
170,000 tons per year.
World War II also increased the requirements for all
lubricating oils. The demand for Aircraft Engine Oils practically doubled during
the period 1942-1945. These increases were met without installing any new units.
Existing equipment was modified to remove capacity limitations.
By the end of the war in 1945, Port Arthur Works was
producing more than one million gallons per day of aviation gasoline. The
production of aviation gasoline dropped from 8,228,000 barrels in 1945 to
889,000 barrels in 1946. Immediately after the war ended in August 1945, there
was a labor strike that started on September 19 and ended on October 6. This was
the first time in the history of Port Arthur Works that the plant was shut down
by a strike.
On November 22, 1944, The Texas Company and American Cyanamid
Co. organized Jefferson Chemical Co., Inc. The plant was constructed in Groves.
It converted refinery gases into basic chemicals for the chemical and plastics
industries, including ethylene glycol for automotive antifreeze. The Jefferson
Chemical plant was completed in late 1947 and Texaco PT Anti-Freeze was
introduced very early in 1948, made from ethylene glycol produced at this plant.
During World War II, the countrywide production of crude oil
increased rapidly in order to manufacture the products needed by the war effort.
Finally, the production of crude oil was at a rate far beyond the maximum
efficient rate for the fields. It soon became apparent that there would be a
critical shortage of crude oil if crude oil from the newly discovered fields in
West Texas and New Mexico were not used. However, these were high-sulfur crude
oils, and processing them would create numerous corrosion problems. While the
war was still in progress, plans were made to process sour (high-sulfur) crudes.
Equipment changes included protective metal coating for tanks, caustic washing,
metal alloy protection on the nine HMVS batteries still in operation, and on the
Within a few days after the end of World War II, plant
production was converted from a war-time to a peace-time basis. A large quantity
of high-octane gasoline that had been used to manufacture aviation gasoline was
now available for motor fuel blending. Consequently, an octane race started to
increase the quality of motor gasoline. The capacity limitations on the FCCU’s
were removed in order to increase the volume of motor gasoline that could be
produced. The charge rate was increased from 15,000 to 42,000 barrels per day;
however, the conversion level decreased from 65% to about 45%. During the
four-year period from 1945 to 1949, the production of motor gasoline practically
doubled from 19 million barrels in 1945 to 37 million barrels in 1949. The
demand for lubricating oils paralleled the demand for motor gasoline. To meet
these demands in 1949, the construction of Vacuum Pipe Still No. 2, FRU No. 4,
and SDU No. 3 was completed.
At the end of 1950, there were 5,433 employees earning nearly
$2.3 million per month. Plant investment had grown to $130.6 million. The volume
of crude charge was 49.7 million barrels. That volume was abnormally low because
Port Arthur Works was shut down for 115 days due to a labor strike called by the
C.I.O. The strike started on April 4 and ended on July 29, 1950. In 1951, the
volume of crude processed was a more typical 78 million barrels.
There was a phenomenal growth in the sale of products during
the post war years of 1945-1950. However, this growth was exceeded during the
5-year period between 1951 and 1956. The crude oil charge rate exceeded 100
million barrels in 1956.
In 1952, Port Arthur Works installed underground storage for
butanes at Sour Lake, Texas. The underground storage consisted of a cavity
washed out of a salt dome. The salt dome is approximately 11 miles long, 7 miles
wide, and more than 1,800 feet thick. The initial storage capacity in the
mushroom-shaped salt dome was 300,000 barrels.
Due to the increased octane level of motor gasoline,
Catalytic Reforming Unit (CRU) No.1 was constructed and started up in July 1954.
The octane race continued and CRU No. 2 was constructed and started up in March
Additional major construction projects completed were VPS No.
3 and FCCU No. 3 in 1956, followed in 1960 by CRU No. 3 and the UDEX unit (to
extract high octane aromatics such as benzene, toluene and xylenes from
reformate (CRU) gasoline). All of these processes were needed to produce
100-octane premium gasoline during the late 1950's and the 1960's.
In late 1959, The Texas Company changed its name to Texaco,
Inc. All products were marked Texaco, Inc. after this year. In 1963, the Company
changed from the round logo (with Texaco, star, and green "T") to the
hexagonal design logo with word "Texaco".
The gasoline race was slowed to a snail’s pace in the
1960's with the predominance of jet aircraft. Aviation jet fuel is a kerosene
fraction called avjet. The demand for high octane motor gasoline soon dropped as
less polluting automobile engines required a lower octane. Aviation gasoline is
presently required just for small private airplanes, with jet fuel becoming the
predominate aviation fuel.
The completion of VPS No. 4 in 1970 allowed an increase in
crude running as well as shutting down of older, smaller crude units. The
completion of the Delayed Coking Unit in November 1992 allowed less profitable
fuel oil to be converted to higher value products such as gasoline. A major
improvement in the Lube Plant was realized with the startup of the HTU 4 Lube
Train in October 1998. This new unit replaced four old lube processing units and
produces the next generation of superior quality lube base oils. The HTU 4 Lube
Train is a revolutionary design unlike any other unit in the world.
Many changes have taken place at the Port Arthur Refinery in
the last 15 years through efforts to streamline operations, reduce personnel
(from more than 5,000 in 1984 to a little over 1,000 in 1998), shift product
distribution, and improve the efficiency of our refinery. All blending and
packaging operations for lubricating oil and grease manufacture were
discontinued in the mid-1980’s in an effort to reduce operating costs. Current
emphasis is focused on producing a quality line of lube base oils (used by
Texaco’s modern blending facilities around the country) and the most
profitable mix of fuels products.
On July 1, 1998, the Port Arthur Refinery became part of a
new alliance called Motiva Enterprises LLC. The alliance will be a joint
ownership with 35% Shell Oil, 32.5% Texaco and 32.5% Saudi Aramco.
Nos. 2 and 3 SDU, which filtered wax from lube oil were
permanently shut down in 1998. They were replaced with the HTU No. 4 Lube Train
that used Chevron's isodewaxing technology in a unique process configuration
developed by Port Arthur to produced Group II and Group III oils, which are
higher quality and perform better. The specially designed catalyst cracks the
wax and improves lubricating properties of the lube oil, which is completely
colorless. Charge to the unit was introduced on October 1, 1998 with on-test
product going to tankage on October 3. The LCDU was converted to Lube Train
technology and came on-line the end of December 2000. At that point Port Arthur
Refinery became the largest lube base oil manufacturing plant in the Western
Hemisphere and the largest Group II/III manufacturing plant in the world with a
total production of 22,000 barrels per day. The unique, locally-developed
process enables us to produce lube oil more economically that other
In 2001, Chevron acquired the assests of Texaco in a merger
to form a new company, Chevron-Texaco. On October 9, 2001, Shell Oil Co.
announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding to acquire Texaco's
interests in Equilon Enterprises LLC making Shell the 100 percent owner. It also
provides that Shell and Saudi Refining, Inc, (SRI) will acquire Texaco's
interests in Motiva Enterprisess LLC, whereby Shell and SRI will each become a
50 percent owner in Motiva. On February 13, 2002, The Federal Trade Commission
approved the acquisition of Texaco's interests in Equilon by Shell and in Motiva
by Shell and SRI.
The history of Port Arthur Works is very complex and rooted
in meeting the demands of the customer and producing products of the highest
quality while maintaining the highest level of environmental stewardship and
employee safety. From a dream of a few men, Port Arthur Works was
instrumental in establishing a major international oil company - Texaco -- the
last company to survive the great Spindletop Oil Boom.