PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

November 21, 2013

Natgasoline selects SE Texas for new methanol plant

Erinn Callahan
The Port Arthur News

BEAUMONT — After more than a year of keeping quiet, OCI N.V. announced Thursday that its wholly owned subsidiary, Natgasoline LLC, has chosen to build a new greenfield world scale methanol plant in Beaumont.

The plant is expected to have a capacity of 5,000 metric tons per day, or 1.75 million metric tons per year, making it the largest facility of its kind in the United States, Texas Secretary of State John Steen said at a press conference at the Greater Beaumont Chamber of Commerce, 1110 Park Street.

“Over the last 10 years, Texas has been responsible for 30 percent of jobs nationwide,” Steen said. “Today is another shining example of that.”

Dubbed “Project Firewater,” the endeavor was made possible by a grant of $2.1 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund, as well as incentives from local entities such as the City of Beaumont, Jefferson County, the Beaumont Independent School District, the Port of Beaumont and the Sabine-Neches Navigation District, according to a press release by the Netherlands-based OCI N.V.

Natgasoline president Frank Choufoer said he anticipates the initial project will cost at least $1 billion, although that number may change. Construction will begin by September or October 2014. Once the facility is completed in late 2016, it will bring 3,000 construction jobs and 240 permanent jobs to Jefferson County, Choufoer said.

“The facility is completely unique,” he said. “We have never built one that size.”

The plant will take up a portion of a 514-acre plot of land recently acquired by OCI, located near the plant’s Beaumont facility at 5474 Highway 347. Previously, Tennessee-based Eastman Chemical Company planned an industrial gasification project at that location, before discontinuing those plans in 2009. Choufeur said Natgasoline decided to build at that site due to the success of the OCI plant.

“We really pushed the company to come to Beaumont,” he said. “This is an area with excellent supplies and good contractors — this is the place where it’s all happening.”

Email: ecallahan@panews.com

Twitter: @ErinnPA