Petrochemical Refineries in Metro Houston, Texas
Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land is a nine-county metropolitan area defined by the Office of Management and Budget. It is located along the Gulf Coast region in the U.S. state of Texas. The metropolitan area is colloquially referred to as "Greater Houston" and is situated in Southeast Texas.
Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land is the fifth-largest metropolitan area in the United States with a population of 6.18 million, as of U.S. Census Bureau's July 1, 2012 estimates. Population as of July 1, 2013: 6,313,158. The population of the metropolitan area is centered in the city of Houston—the largest economic and cultural center of the American South, with a population of 2.1 million.
Houston is among the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the United States. The area grew 25.2 percent between the 1990 and 2000 censuses—adding more than 950,000 people—while the nation's population increased 13.2 percent over the same period. From 2000 to 2007, the area grew by 912,994 people. From 2000 to 2030, the metropolitan area is projected by Woods & Poole Economics to rank fifth in the nation in population growth—adding 2.66 million people. In 2009, Milken Institute/Greenstreet Real Estate Partners ranked the then named Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown MSA as the fifth-best performing metropolitan area; the Houston area had moved up 11 spaces from the previous year's ranking. It is a part of the Texas Triangle megapolitan area.
Among the ten most populous metropolitan areas in the U.S., Houston ranked first in employment growth rate and second in nominal employment growth. In 2006, the Houston metropolitan area ranked first in Texas and third in the U.S. within the category of "Best Places for Business and Careers" by Forbes.
The Houston–The Woodlands-Sugar Land MSA's Gross Metropolitan Product (GMP) in 2005 was $308.7 billion, up 5.4 percent from 2004 in constant dollars—slightly larger than Austria's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). By 2012, the GMP has risen to $449 billion, the fourth-largest of any metropolitan area in the United States. Only 26 nations other than the United States have a GDP exceeding Houston's GAP. Mining, which in Houston is almost entirely oil and gas exploration and production, accounts for 11 percent of Houston's GAP—down from 21 percent as recently as 1985. The reduced role of oil and gas in Houston's GAP reflects the rapid growth of other sectors—such as engineering services, health services, and manufacturing.
The area's economic activity is centered in Houston, the county seat of Harris County. Houston is second to New York City in Fortune 500 headquarters. The city has attempted to build a banking industry, but the companies originally started in Houston have since merged with other companies nationwide. Banking, however, is still vital to the region.
Galveston Bay and the Buffalo Bayou together form one of the most important shipping hubs in the world. The Port of Houston, the Port of Texas City, and the Port of Galveston are all major seaports located in this Greater Houston area. The area is also one of the leading centers of the energy industry, particularly petroleum processing, and many companies have large operations in this region. The metropolitan area also comprises the largest petrochemical manufacturing area in the world, including for synthetic rubber, insecticides, and fertilizers. The area is also the world's leading center for building oilfield equipment. The region is also a major center of biomedical research, aeronautics, and high-technology.
Much of the Metro Area's success as a petrochemical complex is enabled by its busy man-made ship channel, the Houston Ship Channel. Because of these economic trades, many residents have moved to the Houston area from other U.S. states, as well as hundreds of countries worldwide. Unlike most places, where high fuel prices are seen as harmful to the economy, they are generally seen as beneficial for Houston as many are employed in the energy industry. Baytown, Pasadena/La Porte, and Texas City have some of the area's largest petroleum/petrochemical plants though major operations can be found in Houston, Anahuac, Clute, and other communities. Galveston has the largest cruise ship terminal in Texas (and the 12th-largest in the world). The island as well the Clear Lake Area are major recreation and tourism areas in the region.