South Louisiana Methanol Announces $1.3 Billion Investment

Gov. Bobby Jindal, South Louisiana Methanol CEO Barry Williamson and Todd Corp. Group CEO Jon Young announced that South Louisiana Methanol LP will invest $1.3 billion in a new methanol production facility on the banks of the Mississippi River in St. James Parish. Located across the river from the Nucor Corp. project in Convent, La., the South Louisiana Methanol, or SLM, project will create 63 new direct jobs; LED also estimates the project will result in 374 new indirect jobs, for a total of more than 430 new jobs for the area.

Photo: © Royal Society of Chemistry
Photo: © Royal Society of Chemistry

South Louisiana Methanol LP will build and operate a world-scale methanol production facility in St. James Parish, La. Located along the Mississippi River at the Port of South Louisiana, the facility will be supported by ZEEP Ltd. of Austin, Texas, and Todd Corp., based in Wellington, New Zealand. The South Louisiana Methanol site will be the largest of its kind in North America, leveraging low-cost feedstocks in Louisiana into premium chemicals in a gas-to-liquids process.

Methanol is used by manufacturers to produce everyday goods, such as plastics, polyester fibers and fabrics, pesticides, fuel additives, pharmaceuticals and adhesives for the wood products industry. The SLM methanol facility will be located in the Port of South Louisiana district, with access to interstate and intrastate natural gas and carbon dioxide pipelines.

ZEEP and Todd Corp. chose St. James Parish for the new facility because of the state’s strong business climate and the high inventories and inexpensive price of natural gas in Louisiana, as well as the area’s strategic shipping location at the Port of South Louisiana – the largest port in the Western Hemisphere by capacity. Since 2008, more than $32 million in investments and upgrades have been made to the port.

“Louisiana offers a high-quality energy workforce, access to abundant natural gas, and a strong network of pipelines and transportation facilities, which makes it an ideal partner for the production and distribution of methanol,” Williamson said. “We will utilize proven technology, to build the largest methanol plant in North America, which will consume CO2 for a more efficient process, ensuring strong environmental stewardship.”

LED began working with ZEEP on the South Louisiana Methanol project in February 2012. To secure the project, the state will offer an incentive package that includes a $5 million performance-based grant for infrastructure costs, and the services of Louisiana’s top-ranked workforce development program, LED FastStart®. In addition, the company is expected to utilize the state’s Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs.

“From what we have learned, the technology to be utilized and the products to be produced – combined with the project size, employment levels and growth potential – would make ZEEP a prized addition for any parish’s economy. And with ZEEP’s focus on the development of premium fuels products utilizing abundant natural gas, the entire River Region will enjoy the benefits of this company’s choice to build here in St. James Parish,” said St. James Parish President Timmy Roussel.

Construction of the project will begin in the fourth quarter of 2013, with hiring expected to begin in early 2015 and commercial operations of the South Louisiana Methanol facility to start in mid-2016.

“During the last 10 months, the Port of South Louisiana has been working diligently with officials from LED and the River Parishes in the search for a site that would accommodate ZEEP’s requirements,” said Executive Director and CEO Joel Chaisson of the Port of South Louisiana. “Fortunately, after several visits to our port, the company narrowed the search to a location in St. James Parish. We are now excited to welcome the development of a new energy plant, ZEEP, to St. James Parish and to our port district. We are happy to hear ZEEP’s plans to develop a $1 billion methanol plant that will produce clean products and offer employment to the residents of the River Region.”

“Greater New Orleans Inc. is thrilled to welcome SLM to the region,” said GNO Inc. President and CEO Michael Hecht. “Not only will SLM bring $1.3 billion in investment and hundreds of jobs, but this major funding of a clean manufacturing facility proves again that Louisiana’s combination of unparalleled logistics, Top 10 business climate and affordable natural gas makes it an unbeatable location for large industrial projects.”