A groundbreaking day: LNG Center of Excellence now under construction

Published 6:55 pm Monday, May 6, 2024

The LNG Center of Excellence at McNeese State University is under construction at last. At Monday’s groundbreaking celebration, officials outlined the project as a  true team effort that will help integrate a global industry into the local community and position Southwest Louisiana as a “thought leader” in the industry.

“First and foremost, the purpose of the center is to create opportunities (for McNeese students) to work in a globally significant industry in their backyard,” said Jason French, executive director.

In 2022, McNeese began offering an Undergraduate Certificate in Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Business, the first of its kind program in the nation, and the first educational program of the new Center. “We developed this program to address the growing expansion of the LNG industry in Southwest Louisiana,” says Dr. Daryl Burckel, President of McNeese. “This certificate will prepare students who wish to increase their business knowledge about the industry.”

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The Center will include classrooms and industrial grade training facilities where both McNeese students and LNG employees can learn while operating process equipment in a safe, controlled environment. Additionally, it will feature facilities to host industry-related conferences, seminars and media events.

The Center will position Southwest Louisiana not only as the place for LNG export facilities, but as the “thought leader in a globally significant industry,” a research center, a center for workforce development and a place for the development and repository of best practices, French said.

“The LNG Center of Excellence could have been anywhere in the country,” noted Nic Hunter, Mayor of Lake Charles. And it’s right here, part of the McNeese State University Campus. That is an amazing thing.”

Hunter said that while Southwest Louisiana has always had the petro chem jobs, it has not always been the leaders in innovation and training.

“This is going to change that for Lake Charles with the LNG industry,” Hunter said.

The 23,000 square-foot facility was designed by Kudla Architecture, and the contractor for the project is Keiland Construction. Anticipated completion is 3rd quarter of 2025.

Financing began with a $2.8 million CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant to McNeese State University in June 2021. Calcasieu Parish, the City of Lake Charles and Port of Lake Charles helped fund the project by giving $500,000 each. The H.C. Drew Foundation donated $2 million and Tellurian donated $1 million.  Additional funding comes from private, business and industry donors.