Meridian Energy plans to open an oil refinery in Winkler County, but plans aren't set in stone

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KERMIT, Tx. (KOSA) - One energy company is taking steps to build an oil refinery in Winkler County and create an estimated 2,000 jobs.

However, there’s still a long road ahead of them.

Meridian Energy Group has high hopes for building the refinery, but construction can’t begin until they secure a permit from the state.

In a presentation to community members, representatives from Meridian talked about how they hope to plant themselves into Winkler County.

“This is the heart of production in the Permian Basin,” Chief Operations Officer Lance Medlin said. “This is the place to be. If you were to take a pin and drop it on a map you want to be in Kermit, you want to be in Winkler County. This is the area.”

Medlin explained many oil and gas jobs come and go, but a refinery can have a much bigger impact because it’s not going anywhere.

“It might be a bit different than the industries that have come here to this county beforehand and prior is a sustainable job growth. Something you can count on, not just in your life but for your children’s and to pull through as well.”

Before they can break ground, Meridian officials said it will take at least six months to get a permit from the state.

The company also still hasn’t finished its plans for the refinery as they’re still working with local officials to figure out how they avoid putting too much stress on local infrastructure and the environment.

“So, when you talk about a new opportunity coming in with a mass influx of job creation there’s an increase demand or an increased burden on the infrastructure,” Medlin said. “Specifically, highways, school systems, first responders.”

Despite some of these concerns, Winkler residents expressed excitement about the prospect of major job growth in their area.

“Things will look better and better for Winkler County and all of our community,” Winkler County Precint 3 Commissioner Hope Williams said after the meeting. “All of our citizens will benefit one way or the other whether they work at the refinery itself or not. Other industries will come in and they will need people to work them.”

Meridian executives said if they secure their permit, they plan to have the refinery built and running in three to four years.