LNG facility planned at BR port

Houston-based Waller Marine will build a small-scale liquefied natural gas facility at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge in Port Allen to supply vessels with the cleaner-burning fuel they will need to keep up with tougher environmental standards.

The facility is small compared with the billion-dollar LNG projects announced in south Louisiana in recent years. Waller Marine plans to spend $200 million initially, though that amount could double as Waller Marine adds capacity, company officials told the port commission Thursday.

The facility would create upward of 300 construction jobs. It will employ 45 people initially and could double that when fully built out, said Taylor Norton, Waller’s chief general counsel.

Waller will work with existing port tenant Kanorado Corp. to turn Kanorado’s 11-acre facility into a 25-acre joint effort, with both realizing it would be mutually beneficial if they teamed up at the site.

Kanorado’s terminal moves sand, rocks and other aggregate.

David Waller, who founded Waller Marine, told commissioners that beginning in 2015 ships will have to use cleaner-burning low-sulfur diesel fuel, to comply with emissions standards.

He said the fuel isn’t as economical as making ships capable of running on super-cooled liquefied natural gas.

Norton said Waller Marine wants to have the LNG facility operational within the next year and a half.

The first “train” — industry term for the unit in which the LNG is created from regular natural gas — would have the capacity to produce 450,000 gallons of LNG per day. Three additional trains are planned and would cost about $70 million each, effectively doubling the company’s initial $200 million investment.

The fuel would then be sent by pipelines and put onto barges, which would fuel the ships.

Port Director Jay Hardman said the lease, which is 10 years with two 10-year options, would bring the port $54,000 a year in base rent and, when the facility is running at full capacity with four trains, about $600,000 a year in throughput.