$1M in new workforce commitment highlights Sempra & Bechtel celebration of Southeast Texas

Published 12:08 am Friday, April 28, 2023

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SABINE PASS — The major construction boom seen in Orange County is being felt across Southeast Texas as developments in neighboring counties offer expanded opportunities for local students and business professionals.

That was the case Thursday evening when talk about local hiring was backed up when as Sempra Infrastructure and Bechtel pledged $1 million to facilitate those efforts.

A committee of local stakeholders and company representatives will decide how to allocate the funds to local schools, educational institutions and workforce agencies to create pathways to employment.

Bechtel has been contracted by Sempra to construct the Port Arthur LNG facility, which just recently received full go for launch in Sabine Pass.

Sempra Infrastructure and Bechtel are each investing $500,000 into the local hiring and procurement effort.

The major workforce commitment was a highlight during Thursday’s “Constructive Conversations — a Port Arthur LNG Information Open House” hosted at the Sabine Pass ISD gymnasium on South Gulfway Drive in Port Arthur.

Officials expect the Port Arthur LNG facility construction to take more than four years and provide numerous opportunities for local participation in the form of jobs and services.

Sempra Infrastructure President of LNG & Net Zero Solutions Martin Hupka said the company has been actively involved in surrounding communities for years.

“We always knew it was an important part of these projects,” he said. “Seeing this come to fruition is exciting. The community has been incredibly supportive of the project for many years, and that support, from our perspective, is just one step of a broader community program.

“There is a lot that goes into building this project that is primed for local work and local contractors. The tentacles of the project go very far in what you need to actually keep the project going from one day to another.”

Those words took action Thursday when Hupka presented superintendent Kristi Heid with a $50,000 grant in support of the Sabine Pass Independent School District’s new School Career & Technology Center. The funds help underwrite Sabine Pass ISD’s Z-Space Technology, which will deliver immersive and interactive learning.

Bechtel Energy President Paul Marsden highlighted partnerships and programs with Lamar State College Port Arthur, Port Arthur ISD and Nederland ISD to provide access to tools, resources, hands-on experience and certifications.

Port Arthur LNG is projected to create approximately 5,000 highly skilled jobs at peak construction.

Marsden said the project tentacles go further than workforce.

“Sure we buy big, shiny pieces of kit from the supply chain all around the world. That is probably 40 purchase orders,” he said. “The other 20,000 or so purchase orders that keep this big machine running every single day — materials, the food, the water, the catering, fleet maintenance — is where we want to maximize local participation. Our commitment is to put that into the local supply chain and help build that local capability so it is here for the long term.”


Port Arthur Mayor Thurman Bartie said anyone who drives out to Sabine Pass sees “about 1,000 cranes and thousands of people working,” meaning these companies are serious about their commitment to an investment in the local community.

“The economic fallout we are going to have is going to be great,” Bartie said. “In the years to come, the generations after we are all gone will benefit. I know because of what I am seeing now, so what’s on the other side is even greater.”

Superintendent Kristi Heid called the donation announced for the Sabine Pass Independent School District “quite awesome.”

“We have been wanting to get this program going for some time,” she said. “It is program that will reach all the way down into elementary and middle school. We’re really excited about it.”

Sabine ISD hopes to break ground by the end of this summer on a new career and technology center.