Lockheed Martin Announces Liquefied Natural Gas Project Creating 166 New Direct Jobs In New Orleans

An aerial view of the primary manufacturing facility at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. (LMSSC-MO)
An aerial view of the primary manufacturing facility at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. (LMSSC-MO)

Gov. Bobby Jindal and Lockheed Martin IS & GS-Defense President Gerry Fasano announced Lockheed Martin will make a $3 million capital investment at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility to manufacture cryogenic tanks for liquefied natural gas (LNG). The LNG tanks, which initially will be used for ship propulsion, are part of Lockheed Martin’s increased emphasis on converting defense technology to commercial applications. The project will create 166 new direct jobs and another 236 new indirect jobs, for a total of more than 400 new direct and indirect jobs.

Gov. Jindal said, “For years, the Michoud Assembly Facility was thriving, supporting at one time more than 5,000 quality jobs for our people in the space engineering industry. It was one of the largest production facilities in the country and was instrumental in the production of fuel tanks used during NASA’s Space Shuttle Program, as well as prior space programs. But after the federal government stopped the Space Shuttle Program and the Obama administration ended the Constellation space program—production drastically declined here at this facility, resulting in the loss of about 2,000 jobs since 2010.”

Known for aerospace defense and military security systems, Lockheed Martin will initially produce cryogenic tanks to fuel the propulsion systems for oceangoing vessels. Long-term plans call for the company to manufacture tanks to meet the needs of shipping by land, rail and sea, as well as for land-based storage of LNG. At the Michoud facility in New Orleans, Lockheed Martin also will develop Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion heat exchangers—a maritime sustainable energy project—as part of a slate of new technologies planned at the NASA manufacturing site.

“Our entry into the LNG tank market is a prime example of how Lockheed Martin is leveraging capabilities and technologies developed for government and defense programs to meet the needs of private sector customers who drive the nation’s economy,” Fasano said.

“Lockheed Martin’s decision to diversify its business here in New Orleans demonstrates the confidence they have in our workforce and business climate and is a sign of the potential of manufacturing at Michoud in New Orleans,” said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

The first phase of the project is expected to begin with the installation of equipment in December 2013. In the future, Lockheed Martin will pursue additional advanced manufacturing projects at the Michoud facility, where it has long assembled major components of NASA’s space systems.

The Michoud Assembly Facility is owned and operated by NASA and managed by the international engineering, architecture and construction firm, Jacobs Engineering Group. Opened in the 1940s, the Michoud Assembly Facility is one of the largest production facilities in the country. It was instrumental in the development and production of fuel tanks used during NASA’s space shuttle program, as well as prior space programs and NASA’s current Orion capsule and Space Launch System projects.

“Lockheed Martin’s decision to both expand and diversify in Greater New Orleans is a double win,” said CEO and President Michael Hecht of Greater New Orleans Inc. “First, it is another example of the economic development benefit of the natural gas boom in southern Louisiana; second, it represents another significant step in the repurposing of Michoud as a public-private, multi-use manufacturing facility. Lockheed Martin has had a great past at Michoud, and we look forward to an even greater future.”