EuroChem acquires Iberville plant site

Russia’s largest producer of minerals fertilizer has purchased 2,150 acres near Carville in Iberville Parish, state officials announced.

But the transaction may not lead to a planned $1.5 billion EuroChem ammonia and urea production plant at that location, officials added Wednesday.

“EuroChem has not yet selected a final location for their planned project in Louisiana,” said Stephen Moret, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Economic Development.

In July, Dmitry Strezhnev, EuroChem’s chief executive officer, announced the Carville site was one of two under consideration for the plant. The other site was the Goldmine Plantation in Edgard in St. John the Baptist Parish.

“Because we had multiple companies interested in purchasing the Iberville site, EuroChem had to commit to purchase the site in order to retain that location option for their project,” Moret explained. “If they don’t ultimately locate the project there, LED has the option to designate an alternate buyer that would purchase the site from EuroChem.”

Officials of EuroChem could not be reached immediately for comment, but they said last year that the land near Carville, known as the Point Clair Farm, was under consideration as the future site of the $1.5 billion plant. If completed according to plan, that plant would become EuroChem’s first such site in the Americas.

Louisiana’s commissioner of administration, Kristy Nichols, issued a written statement Tuesday in which she said the state received $12 million for the property, which had been used for pasture, pecans and a former prison. Nichols said the money from the sale would be used to help balance the state’s budget.

EuroChem deposited $12 million into an escrow account last year for its potential purchase of the Point Clair Farm.

In August, state Rep. Sam Jones, D-Franklin, inserted a requirement in the purchase agreement that would force EuroChem to sell the Point Clair Farm at a $2 million loss to a buyer chosen by the state. That sale would take place if the manufacturer does not begin construction of its plant within three years.

When the project was announced at the Governor’s Mansion last year, EuroChem officials said construction would begin in 2015 and require four years for completion.

According to records with the St. John the Baptist Parish Clerk of Court’s Office, EuroChem filed an option in April on the Goldmine Plantation site and was given until June 2014 to exercise the option.

The Goldmine Plantation property is 915 acres off La. 18, according to the St. John the Baptist Economic Development office. The land is zoned industrial.

The new plant would create 200 permanent jobs with an annual payroll of $11.6 million. The average annual salary for those jobs would be $58,000, plus benefits.

Another 1,378 indirect jobs were expected to be created by the plant. And as many as 2,000 people would be needed for its construction.

As an enticement, LED offered EuroChem an incentives package that included a $6 million performance-based grant to offset the costs of site infrastructure improvements.

Moret said Wednesday that the $6 million grant “was a significant contributing factor with respect to the company’s selection of Louisiana.”

EuroChem, which employs 20,000 people worldwide, reported $5.4 billion in revenue in 2012. Through the first three quarters of 2013, the firm reported revenue of $4.2 billion.