Methanex gets permits for plant

Vancouver-based Methanex Corp. has been granted the state and federal air permits needed to construct and operate its 1 million-ton methanol project in Geismar.

“This represents a key milestone for the project. With the air permits now in place, construction on the Geismar site can commence,” Methanex President and Chief Executive Officer Bruce Aitken said in a news release.

The dismantling of the plant in Chile for relocation to Louisiana is progressing well, Aitken said.

Methanex expects the Geismar plant to be in production by the end of 2014.

Methanex is the world’s largest supplier of methanol to major international markets.

Methanol can be found in everything from windshield washer fluid to recyclable plastic bottles, plywood floors, paint, silicone sealants and synthetic fibers. Methanol, a clean-burning alternative fuel, also is increasingly used in the energy sector, including direct gasoline blending, dimethyl ether and biodiesel.

The likely relocation to Geismar to take advantage of low natural gas prices was first announced by the company in January.

The award of an engineering contract to Jacobs Engineering Group was reported in February.

The company has said it will spend $550 million on the project, which will give the company its first U.S.-based methanol production facility in more than a decade. The new plant will create 130 new jobs, with an average salary of $56,250, plus benefits.

In addition to natural gas, ready supplies of hydrogen, oxygen and other industrial gases, Methanex can use other existing assets in Ascension Parish including easy access to barge, rail and interstate highway transportation, officials have said.

To secure the project, Louisiana’s economic development department offered Methanex performance-based grants of $3.8 million to offset infrastructure costs and $1.5 million to reimburse relocation expenses. It also is receiving local incentives.

In addition, Methanex will use LED FastStart — the state’s workforce development program — and is expected to utilize the state’s Industrial Tax Exemption and Quality Jobs programs.