Worker looks at syngas-powered engine

A HyCO plant in Clear Lake, Texas has recently attracted mechanics liens worth over $2 million.

The two mechanics liens, filed by subcontractor Apache Industrial Services, are tied to two separate addresses — 9602 Bayport Blvd., Pasadena, TX, and 4840 Railroad St., Deer Park, TX. The liens, worth $2,307,390.31, were filed on September 15, 2020 at the Harris County Clerk’s Office.

Mechanics liens are a powerful debt recovery option for contractors who have gone unpaid on a construction project. When a mechanics lien is filed, it attaches to the property and can hinder its sale until the contractor gets paid. If a property owner or general contractor pays a portion of the debt, the mechanics lien can be amended to reflect the remaining balance. If the debt is paid in full, the lien is released.

Apache furnished labor and materials for the “Praxair Clear Lake HyCO Project” beginning December of 2019 and ending July of 2020.

HyCO plants can generate and supply hydrogen, carbon monoxide, or a mixture of both, referred to as both “HyCO” and “syngas.” These resources have multiple industrial applications, including oil and metal refining, food processing, semiconductor manufacturing, and more.

Although the owner is listed as Praxair, it appears that Linde AG will be operating the plant. Praxair acquired Linde AG in 2018, and Linde, considered a leader in industrial gas and engineering, reported $28 billion in sales in 2019.

Apache was hired by general contractor Primoris Industrial Contractors to provide scaffolding for the “blasting, priming, intumescent painting, and top coating of structural steelwork for renovation and/or construction and/or maintenance of the improvements” for the Praxair Clear Lake HyCO Project.

Praxair-Linde industrial gas merger raised FTC concerns

In 2018, Praxair merged with Linde AG to form Linde PLC, which is currently the largest industrial gas company in the world by revenue and market share.

The merger raised antitrust concerns from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In order for the deal to go through, the two companies were required to divest assets in nine separate industrial gas markets in order to maintain a healthy and competitive market.

In February 2019, the FTC approved the divestiture of the Clear Lake HyCo from Linde and Praxair to Celanese Ltd.

Mechanics lien filed at separate Praxair Plant in Geismar, LA

The Clear Lake facility is not the only Praxair syngas plant that has seen mechanics lien filings. 

Primoris, the general contractor on the Clear Lake HyCO Project, filed a mechanics lien to claim an unpaid amount of $804,500 on a syngas plant project in Geismar, Louisiana earlier this year.

At the time this article was written, none of the mechanics liens on both the Geismar or Clear Lake Praxair plants have been released.