Another option is to create interesting enhancements for the hydrocarbon. One that gives you additional storage, but due to the hit points of the hydrocarbon it is less trivial to snipe. Or one that gives you radar coverage, but one that is free (as it tabs from the hydrocarbon plant). Or an enhancement* that boosts the e production from 100 to 300.
These do not match the criteria
without making them any more powerful in early game build orders., but it would be refreshing for the meta and how people approach the game.