Yuhuang buys St. James site for $1.85 billion methanol complex _lowres


Yuhuang Chemical Inc. has acquired a 1,300-acre site in St. James Parish for its previously announced $1.85 billion methanol manufacturing complex.

The company plans to build the complex in phases.

Preparations are underway for the first phase, the construction of an $800 million plant that can produce 1.9 million tons of methanol a year.

Methanol is a key ingredient in making plastics.

The plant, on the west bank of the Mississippi River, is expected to begin operating by the first quarter of 2018.

Last week, Yuhuang signed a 20-year contract with Transcontinental Gas Pipeline for capacity on a natural gas pipeline to the proposed complex.

Natural gas will be both a fuel and a feedstock for the facility.

The project is expected to add 400 permanent jobs and 2,365 indirect jobs to the region’s economy over nine years.

The state Department of Environmental Quality has already issued an air operating permit for the methanol plant.

But two environmental groups have asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to block the permit.

The Sierra Club and the Louisiana Environmental Action Network claim DEQ erred in concluding the plant’s emissions would be so low that Yuhuang didn’t need a separate permitting process requiring more intensive emissions modeling.

Yuhuang Chemical is the North American subsidiary of Shandong Yuhuang Chemical Co. Ltd., one of China’s leading chemical companies.

The methanol complex is the first major, direct investment by a Chinese company in Louisiana.

Follow Ted Griggs on Twitter, @tedgriggsbr.