JACKSON — From its auspicious beginnings in Tinsley Oil Field in Yazoo City, Southland Oil Company has evolved into one of Mississippi’s top producers of petroleum products.
According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), Southland has the capacity to produce 16,800 barrels per calendar day (BCD). The company’s Lumberton refinery accounts for 5,800 barrels BCD and its Sandersville refinery accounts for 11,000 BCD. By comparison, Chevron USA Inc. at Pascagoula has the capacity to produce 295,000 BCD and Ergon Refining Inc. in Vicksburg accounts for 23,000 BCD.
The key to the company’s success can be attributed to Southland’s objectives remaining unchanged throughout its 60-year history, said James R. Satcher, president and CEO of Southland Oil Company in Jackson.
“We’ve continued to produce quality products, provide quality service to our customers, expand our market presence and reduce operating costs,” said Satcher, a Heidelberg native who joined the company as a general laborer in January 1960 and was named Southland’s leader Jan. 1, 1997.
The Southland story began several years before the company was formed. On Sept. 1, 1939, oil was discovered at the Tinsley Field located near Yazoo City. In 1941, Dallas businessman E. Constantin Jr., who owned several oil-related facilities in Texas, moved to Mississippi to build a refinery at the oil field and established Paluxy Asphalt Company.
During the mid- to late-1940s, Rogers Lacy, an entrepreneur from Longview, Texas, moved to Heidelberg following the discovery of oil in the Heidelberg Field and constructed a small asphalt-producing facility near Sandersville.
Around 1950, the two facilities merged into a common ownership company under the name Southland Oil Company. At the same time, the company began operating a Mississippi River terminal in Vicksburg.
The terminal, with dock and truck facilities and the ability of receiving and shipping products by barge, features insulated and heated tank storage capacity for asphalt products.
In 1969, Southland acquired a third refinery near an oil field near Lumberton. Combined, the three refineries had a capacity of approximately 22,000 BCD.
However, in 1981, operations ceased at the Yazoo City refinery because it was landlocked and did not have access to a major crude oil supply pipeline.
“Crude oil supply transportation costs became a major factor in the decision to close the refinery,” Satcher said.
At the same time, production was increased at the Sandersville and Lumberton refineries to meet market demands and to offset any adverse effects of closing the Yazoo City refinery.
Today, the two refineries have a capacity of approximately 19,000 barrels per stream day (BPSD), with more than 90% of crude oil feedstock derived from local oil fields.
A substantial portion of the products made at the refineries, including heavy naphtha, light straight run naphtha and petroleum distillate, are transported from the refineries to the Vicksburg terminal.
“These products are purchased by major refiners and chemical companies for further processing into gasoline, jet fuel and other products,” said Satcher.
Other products generated from the refineries include finished roofing grade asphalt, paving grade asphalt, heavy gas oils and high sulfur diesel fuel shipped by truck, pipeline or rail car. More specifically, the products include asphalt binders, asphalt cutbacks, asphalt emulsions, industrial asphalts and Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP)-graded asphalts. The SHRP is a federal highway road design program adopted by various states, of which Southland is a certified asphalt supplier.
The asphalt Southland produces can be used in more than 40 specific grades of asphalt products ranging from industrial coatings to a full spectrum of paving, maintenance and polymer-modified asphalts. Southland is a primary supplier of asphalt for Mississippi and is active in 14 other states.
“Over the years, Southland has utilized a wide variety of asphalt-based crudes including Venezuelan, Mexican, Alaskan, Persian Gulf and domestic crudes,” Satcher said.
Agricultural, forestry, oil field, marine and other industries utilize Southland’s diesel fuel production.
“For over half a century, Southland has been there, and in the long run we will still be here,” Satcher said.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne Wilbanks Jeter at email@example.com or (601) 853-3967.