A $1.2 billion methanol manufacturing plant will be built in northern Plaquemines Parish, one of several such facilities to locate in southeastern Louisiana in recent years.
Castleton Commodities International, a global commodities trading and manufacturing company, and state officials announced the construction of the new plant in Braithwaite on Friday morning.
The facility, which will be capable of producing 5,000 metric tons of methanol a day, will employ about 50 people with an average salary of about $72,000 plus benefits. Those workers will help support about 290 additional jobs in other sectors, according to an analysis by Louisiana Economic Development.
“We’re proud that CCI is now joining the impressive list of important global investors who are choosing to invest their capital and create the jobs of the future right here in Louisiana,” Gov. Bobby Jindal said in a news release announcing the project. “Generations of Louisiana families will benefit from these historic investments we’re attracting to our state.”
Work on building the plant will begin in 2016 and will take about two years to complete. Construction work will employ about 1,000 people, according to Louisiana Economic Development.
The plant will be located on the former AMAX Nickel site, a 387-acre property on the Mississippi River in Braithwaite.
Methanol is used in a variety of other chemical processes, including the production of plastics, polyester and paint, and can be used as a fuel additive.
Castleton is just one of several companies that have announced plans to build such facilities in Louisiana in recent years. Other major projects include the Methanex plant in Geismar, which was relocated from Chile, and a Yuhuang Chemical Inc. plant in St. James Parish that will export between 70 percent and 80 percent of its product to China.
Methanol projects nationwide have gotten a boost from the low price of natural gas, which is used in the manufacturing process, but state Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret said in an email that Louisiana’s incentives and permitting process were key to beating out competing states, such as Texas, to land the facilities.
Moret specifically touted the relatively low tax burden for new plants in Louisiana, particularly when compared with Texas, and a permitting process that can approve projects a year or a year and a half faster than the neighboring state. That permitting process uses roughly the same environmental standards used in Texas, Moret said.
The use of incentives and FastStart, the state’s workforce training program, also add to that edge, Moret said.
Discussions about the project have been underway since September 2013. Castleton will be taking advantage of FastStart as well as the state’s quality jobs and industrial tax exemption programs.
Castleton officials also noted the advantages of the area’s transportation network.
“The project location situated along the Mississippi River near New Orleans makes the site ideal for use in multiple projects,” Castleton CEO William Reed III said in a news release. “The proximity to a major waterway, deepwater ports, access to natural gas pipelines, truck and rail — in addition to an efficient and expeditious permitting process offered by Louisiana — were major deciding factors in the selection of Plaquemines Parish for the project.”
Follow Jeff Adelson on Twitter, @jadelson.