LNG job projection numbers differ
Driftwood LNG will produce 6,400 temporary jobs and 300-350 long-term jobs as it builds and operates its $15.9 billion manufacturing facility, according to its application for Louisiana’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program.
However, local officials are citing as many as 20,000 construction jobs and 500 permanent jobs, based on an economic impact study paid for by Telluran LNG, Driftwood’s parent company. During an Alliance for Positive Growth meeting in December, Calcasieu Parish Administrator Bryan Beam said the project will produce 200-300 permanent jobs once completed, with contract positions bringing that estimate closer to 500 jobs. He added that it will create more than 20,000 construction jobs over five years.
Industries that want to take part in the ITEP must complete an extensive application, sign a cooperative endeavor agreement with the state, pay a $15,000 application fee to the Louisiana Department of Economic Development and get local approval. The documents are public record, with companies disclosing the legally binding details of their business plans, including their timeline for construction and operation, as well as employment and payroll projections.
Tam Bourgeois, executive counsel for LED, said companies are legally obligated to fulfill the figures outlined in the cooperative endeavor agreement to continue receiving the program’s guaranteed tax exemption benefits. Companies that don’t meet those requirements could have their ITEP benefits limited or cancelled, according to the agreement’s “obligation section.”
Joi Lecznar, Tellurian’s senior vice president of public affairs and communications, said economist Loren Scott was hired to complete the study in order to “better understand our overall impact to the community.”
Hiring an outside expert is a “very common and customary practice,” she said.
While Scott’s numbers are more widely circulated than the ITEP application and agreement figures, “the Scott study was not used for the ITEP application,” Lecznar said.
Scott’s study uses a “multiplier effect” economic principle to project the “secondary” or “indirect” impacts new jobs could potentially create.
When Driftwood’s application was brought before local taxing entities in November, the Calcasieu Parish Taxing Authority’s recommendation stated the project would bring 200 permanent jobs, not the 300-350 jobs mentioned in the ITEP application.
Jason French, Tellurian vice president of government and public affairs, clarified the difference in a November interview with the American Press. Because all 350 employees may not be Louisiana residents, he said 200 would be its “accurate but conservative figure.”
“We want to show entities an accurate, but conservative return on investment,” French said.
He added that the number of permanent jobs could be closer to 400 after factoring in non-Louisiana residents and contract workers.
Scott predicts the Driftwood project could bring in 7,901 jobs to the area in the first year of construction, more than the amount cited in the company’s ITEP application. Driftwood is not legally obligated to fulfill any of Scott’s projections.