Louisiana governor announces $1.3bn methanol plant at port

01 March 2013 00:27  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal on Thursday said that the largest methanol plant in North America, costing $1.3bn (€988m), will be built at the Port of South Louisiana, with construction to start later this year.

The plant’s owner, South Louisiana Methanol, is a joint venture consisting of Texas-based Zero Emission Energy Plant (ZEEP) and its financial backer, Todd Corp, a private firm in New Zealand.

The plant announcement continues a comeback for methanol in the US, which 30 years ago was the largest methanol producing country in the world but now imports about 70% of its supply from Trinidad and Tobago, off the coast of Venezuela.

But a recurrent trend over the past two years has been growing competition from North America, where the shale gas boom in the US and parts of southwestern Canada have made the region a magnet for methanol projects.

The Port of South Louisiana stretches 54 miles along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, with numerous chemical plants on its banks. Jindal said the methanol plant in St. James Parish will create 63 new direct jobs paying an average salary of $66,500 a year, plus benefits.

The state of Louisiana will offer the plant owners a $5m performance-based grant for infrastructure costs and the services of the state workforce development program.

ZEEP is a clean energy company based in Austin, Texas, engaged in the development of projects that upgrade low-value feedstocks into premium fuels and chemicals, according to its website.

South Louisiana Methanol CEO Barry Williamson has extensive political experience, according to the ZEEP website.

Williamson served as an adviser to the Secretary of Energy in US President Ronald Reagan's administration and as director of the Mineral Management Service under President George H W Bush.

The family-owned Todd Corporation in New Zealand has interests in oil and gas exploration and production, electricity generation, energy retailing, property development, healthcare, telecommunications and wine, according to its website.

($1 = €0.76)

By: Lane Kelley
+1 713 525 2653

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