Officials with the Port of Greater Baton Rouge said they are about a week away from reaching a lease agreement with a Houston renewable fuels company that wants to lease 164 acres and build a $300 million to $700 million diesel fuel plant.
“We’re just about there,” said Jay Hardman, executive director of the port. If a lease deal is reached with Greentech Materials, the plan is to hold a special port commission meeting in November in which Greentech officials would discuss their plans for the property. Commissioners would then vote on the lease at the meeting.
If a special meeting is held to discuss the lease, Hardman said the plan would be to hold it in Baton Rouge in a room big enough to house the 17 port commissioners and anyone who wanted to hear the Greentech presentation.
In January, the port commission approved a measure that gave Greentech 90 days to reach an agreement for an option on the land, located west of the Genesis Energy terminal at the port's Inland Rivers Marine Terminal.
The Greater Baton Rouge Port Commission Thursday approved a deal with a renewable fuels company that gives it a 90-day option to lease 164 acr…
Negotiations with Greentech were delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Company officials couldn’t travel to look at the site; port officials couldn’t meet with them; and consultants couldn’t get out to the port, Hardman said. “It slowed everything down,” he said.
Greentech would produce environmentally friendly diesel fuel from soybean and palm oil. Some of the officials involved with the project worked for The Shaw Group in the mid-2000s, when the former Baton Rouge company was considering building a plant at the port. They were not identified. That plant would have blended vegetable oil and alcohol to produce biodiesel.
The plant would produce 8 million to 9 million barrels of renewable fuel that would be shipped by barge or rail. Construction of the plant is estimated to create more than 500 jobs, and the first phase of the facility would lead to the hiring of fewer than 50 full-time employees.
Greentech is made up of “legitimate” and “very honest people,” who have the private funding to build the infrastructure for a renewable fuels plant, Hardman said.