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LNG project moving along at swift pace

Last Modified: Thursday, January 30, 2014 10:51 AM

By John Guidroz / American Press

The president of Magnolia LNG updated Lake Charles Port Board members Wednesday on the company’s estimated $3.5 billion liquefied natural gas project and presented a check to extend the company’s lease with the port for a year.

Maurice Brand said the midscale LNG project is expected to produce up to 70 permanent jobs, 175 indirect jobs and 1,000 construction jobs. The facility, construction of which is expected to begin in the spring of 2015, will be on port property along the Industrial Canal.

“The speed of this project has been quite sensational,” Brand said.

He said the facility will be about 30 percent more efficient than other LNG plants, using 6 percent to 8 percent of gas instead of the typical 9 percent to 10 percent.

“This will set the benchmark for new developments in LNG industry,” he said.

Brand said the project’s investment jumped from an initial $2.2 billion because of a heightened level of interest. He touted the support of officials like U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, Southwest Louisiana state lawmakers, and local officials.

“We’ve decided that we will go and spend the extra $1.3 billion, and that really is the cost of two extra LNG trains,” he said.

Brand said he plans to visit the board sometime next year to sign a 30-year lease agreement.

Clean energy

The board also approved a resolution saying it will take the necessary steps to acquire about 80 acres of vacant property needed to move the $2.6 billion Lake Charles Clean Energy project forward.

Mike Dees, the port’s legal counsel, said the owners of the property include “more than 30 or 40 different individuals scattered across the country.” This makes it difficult to voluntarily acquire the land, which would be used to store the methanol produced at the Lake Charles Clean Energy plant. The board in August agreed to handle and store methanol for Lake Charles Clean Energy.

“We have been in touch with the current owners by letter, and they are aware of our interest in the property,” Dees said.

He said one property owner “who had a substantial interest” rejected an offer last year to voluntarily acquire the property. Since then, he said the port has completed two environmental studies and another appraisal. Dees said another offer will be submitted to the property owners.

The project is expected to generate 1,500 construction jobs and 200 permanent jobs. The facility will be built along the Calcasieu Ship Channel near the Citgo refinery.

Saltwater barrier

The board also approved spending $50,000 per year for three years to extend the operating hours of the Calcasieu Saltwater Barrier.

Under the agreement, the port, the Calcasieu Police Jury, the city of Lake Charles and the Calcasieu Sheriff’s Office would each pay a portion of the $150,000 needed per year to have the barrier open 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 6 a.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday. The barrier is now open 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

The Police Jury — which agreed last week to pay its share of the cost — would also pay $50,000 per year, while the city and Sheriff’s Office would each pay $25,000 annually.

The Army Corps of Engineers reduced shift hours at the barrier from 16 to 12 hours after a drop in federal funding to the Inland Marine Transportation System.

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