Oil and gas company aims to power refinery with solar energy

PECOS COUNTY-- An oil and gas company in Pecos County is on track to refine its oil using renewable energy.

MMEX Resources Corp. bought hundreds of acres of land in the county, and announced its intention to build a refinery.

In July of 2018, the company filed trademark paperwork to develop a solar power project.

And on December 19th, the company announced its partnership with the Texas Solar Power Association, a trade organization made up of companies dedicated to developing solar products in Texas.

The President and CEO of MMEX Resources Corp., Jack W. Hanks, explained why his company decided to power the planned oil refinery with a renewable energy source.

“We have a confluence of tremendous resources in Pecos County, for that matter, in the Permian Basin. You’ve got the largest oil field in the world. You’ve got great sun and solar power metrics right there. And it made a lot of sense to us, instead of buying power from the grid that we could utilize renewable energy of our own,” he said.

The 500- acre plot of land is located around 20 miles outside of Fort Stockton. The company is on track to build a 10,000 barrel-per-day crude distillation unit and full-scale crude oil refinery. Hanks said the project is big, but other companies have seen success.

“And the good news about Pecos County, and this area, is there’s no doubt about there being plenty of sun. There’s already a lot of other studies that have been done in this state and Pecos County. And other companies have already built some of these facilities. So we don’t have to prove up the concept. It’s really execution from this point forward,” he said.

The first step in execution according to Hanks, is hiring an engineering and procurement contractor. The contractor will work with the Texas Solar Power Association to create a solar plan. The company aims to develop the distillation unit and solar project at the same time.

Hanks highlighted possible timeframes for the projects, and commented on next steps that his company will be taking.

“The crude distillation unit, the first phase, can be in commercial operation within 12 to 15 months. So we would like to tie in the solar project and for it to be completed in that amount of time. We don’t think permitting will be an issue. And then the construction time of the panels. But we don’t see those as major hurdles. I think it will be more of the regulatory scheme of things that would delay us,” he said.

The solar power generated will power the MMEX Resources Corp. facilities, but can potentially power nearby cities, according to Hanks.

“We’ve already had some discussion, so we are encouraged that there are opportunities for us to supply solar power to some of the cities around us. We could also provide solar power to other oil field operations because there is a need for it,” he said.

Hanks said several communities have showed strong interest in purchasing solar power, and MMEX Resource Corp.’s will be interviewing neighboring communities in the future.

The CEO said the sun-fed refinery could be up and running by the end of the first quarter of 2020.

The refinery can potentially employ hundreds of people throughout the process of building and maintaining the Pecos refinery.