Citgo's future in Tulsa, still not decided

Monday, November 10th 2003, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

An internal memo from Citgo provides more clues about the company's future plans in Tulsa.

For the past few months, Citgo has been deciding whether or not to move its headquarters from Tulsa to Houston.

Nearly a thousand Tulsa jobs are riding on that decision.

News on 6 business reporter Steve Berg says the memo gives more insight into what the company workers are being told and what executives are pondering. And it comes from one of its highest-ranking officials.

The memo obtained by the News on 6 is dated October 31st, the day that Citgo completed its feasibility study on relocating to Houston. It states that a major employee concern was over increased commute times, presumably referring to Houston traffic. Tulsa officials have long been saying that less traffic congestion is one of Tulsa's advantages.

The memo also says that Citgo is still in negotiations with state representatives to see what incentives they may have to offer Citgo, which is interesting because government officials have not publicized any possible incentives. We talked with State Department of Commerce officials, who said they have not had any major discussion with Citgo officials since August, although they say they did present Citgo at that time with details on Oklahoma's Quality Jobs program, which is available to all businesses.

It's also not clear whether the state that Citgo refers to in the memo is Oklahoma or Texas, but since the memo was sent to Tulsa workers, one would assume Oklahoma. We also asked the Department of Commerce if they plan to approach the legislature for any specific incentives for Citgo, but they said that was something they couldn't comment on.

Finally, the memo gives a fairly specific timeline for the decision. It says that negotiations with the state will take a couple of months, that they will take all of their information to the board and that they may not receive a final decision until after the first of the year.

One thing the memo does not address is air travel. Industry watchers say Houston's big advantage is non-stop flights to Venezuela, where Citgo's parent company is located.

It appears that Citgo is at least still "considering" Tulsa. It sounds like it might be "after" the year before we know anything.

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