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Sweeny Refinery celebrates 75th anniversary

More than 700 employees, retirees and their families gathered recently to help Sweeny Refinery celebrate 75 years of operations.

“It was a great day celebrating and seeing old and current friends,” said Margin Analyst Randy Miller. “You can see the long-lasting impact the Sweeny Refinery has had on the people in this community.”

The event in nearby Angleton, one of several planned throughout the year, featured food trucks, inflatables, a car show, petting zoo, a dunking booth and various games. Refinery leadership thanked current and former employees for their service to the refinery.

“Our people are what drive the Sweeny Refinery to be a high-performing organization,” Sweeny Refinery HR Manager Michael Saiz said. “Seventy-five years of operations is a huge milestone and something to be celebrated. Thanks to all of our employees and retirees for your contributions to our prolonged success.”

A banner year, a long history 

Sweeny has had plenty to celebrate this year. In March, the refinery was awarded the Distinguished Safety Award by American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers for outstanding safety performance in 2021. It was one of only four facilities to earn the industry’s top safety honor.

Though Sweeny is celebrating 75 years as a refinery, the facility itself was built in 1942 by the U.S. Defense Plant Corporation to produce fuel for Allied military aircraft during World War II.

Its location in Old Ocean, about 60 miles southwest of Houston and less than 30 miles inland from the Texas Coast, was chosen because it was far enough inland that German missiles couldn’t reach it, yet close enough to move products.

From 1947 to today 

After the war, Phillips Petroleum purchased the refinery, named it after the neighboring town of Sweeny and began operations on September 3, 1947.

Today, Sweeny employs more than 2,000 people, including contractors, and processes mainly heavy, high-sulfur crude oil as well as some light, low-sulfur crude oil to produce transportation fuels, petrochemical feedstocks, home heating oil, fuel-grade petroleum coke, solvents and sulfur.

The refinery anchors a collection of strategic assets in Brazoria County known as the Sweeny Hub that also includes the NGL Fractionation Complex next door and the Freeport LPG Export Terminal and Clemens Caverns Storage Facility nearby. CPChem, the 50/50 petrochemicals joint venture between Phillips 66 and Chevron, also has operations adjacent to Sweeny.