CASA GRANDE — Casa Grande City Council members were excited Monday night to hear the details of a new natural gas-to-gasoline production plant that is planned for the area.
Nacero Inc. is looking to build a $3.3 billion facility to convert natural gas to gasoline along Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway across from Abbott Nutrition and Frito-Lay. Members of the company’s leadership spoke with the council over a teleconference line due to concerns about the coronavirus. The city has yet to sign a development agreement or an agreement for the use of treated wastewater for the plant with Nacero.
“I think you’ve got everyone excited about the possibility and convinced that this would be a win-win,” said Councilman Dick Powell.
“We’re excited to have you here and at this point (in the process),” said Mayor Pro Tem Lisa Navarro Fitzgibbons.
“It’s exciting for Casa Grande and exciting for Arizona,” said Councilman Matt Herman. He pointed out that the newest refinery in the U.S. was built several decades ago.
Nacero Chairman Tom Tureen reminded the council that the plant is not a refinery. It is to use a catalytic process to create gasoline from natural gas, which is different from how oil refineries create gasoline. The company uses a process created in the early 1980s by Haldor Topsoe, a company from Denmark.
The Houston, Texas-based company plans to start construction on the plant in 2021 and have it completed in 2025. The plant will generate approximately 2,000 construction jobs and 265 high-paying, permanent jobs that pay about $90,000 a year once it is complete, according to Nacero. The plant is expected to produce about 35,000 barrels of gasoline a day for nearby markets.
The Casa Grande plant will be the first production facility the company will build and also be a training facility for safety and production methods for the other facilities the company plans to build around the country, Tureen said.
Fitzgibbons and several other council members had questions about the safety measures that the company would have in place at the plant.
George Andrews from Nacero said the company would have its own fire and security department on site and have a mutual aid agreement with the city to provide additional help if needed in an emergency. The plant would also have an advanced kind of firefighting foam on the site that could snuff out a fire in seconds.
A security force would also be on site 24 hours a day to prevent unauthorized access to the plant.
One other item the company is looking at is getting funding, possibly from the federal government, to build an overpass over the railroad tracks in the area, Tureen said. This would give the company an unobstructed route to the north to ship gasoline out of the plant by truck and avoid having gasoline trucks rumbling through the center of Casa Grande.
The company is also working with Central Arizona College and state universities to create a trained workforce for the construction and operation of the plant.
The plant’s process actually creates water, which is to be used to help operate the plant, according to Nacero. The plant will get about 80% of the water it needs to run the plant from its own process. The remaining 20% is to come from an agreement to use treated wastewater from the city of Casa Grande’s treatment plant. The company does not plan to draw on the local aquifer for additional water.
What area elected officials and community leaders are saying about Nacero, according to a press release:
- Anthony Smith, chairman of the Pinal County Board of Supervisors: “A project of this magnitude will be a game-changer that will impact Arizona and especially Pinal County for decades to come. I’m looking forward to seeing first-hand the success of Nacero and the high-quality jobs it will bring to our area.”
- Supervisor Steve Miller: “Nacero’s investment is three times larger than any other investment made in Pinal County and because it is net water positive, will be an asset to our aquifer. The interaction with Nacero has been of the highest quality of professionalism and I’m sure that will be the signature of their operations.”
- Casa Grande Assistant Fire Chief Dave Kean: “I am impressed by Nacero’s focus on safety. Their engineers met with us at the start of the process, not the end, as usually happens.”
- Glenn Hamer, CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry: “We welcome Nacero, ‘The New Gasoline,’ to Arizona. Nacero will diversity our manufacturing base, put quality jobs in rural Arizona and give Arizona a measure of gasoline independence for the first time.”
- Sandra Watson, Arizona Commerce Authority president and CEO: “We are very proud that Nacero has selected Casa Grande, Arizona, as the home for this first-in-the-nation, high-tech manufacturing facility.”