Our Views: A big one gets away

With state and local officials, we are disappointed at the decision of Royal Dutch Shell to cancel a major new industrial project.

The company determined that the gas-to-liquids plant, or GTL for short, would not be as profitable as earlier believed. The $12.5 billion plant would have created 740 direct jobs in the river parishes.

Part of the company’s concern is the uncertainty of long-term oil and gas prices, understandable for a plant that would use cheap natural gas as its feedstock.

The plant would have been a welcome addition to the giant petrochemical complexes between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

Stephen Moret, head of the state industry-hunting office, notes that the state is still very much in the mix in this new field, with billions more in similar projects planned, even with Shell’s decision.

The Shell announcement, while disappointing, should not dampen the intensive discussions across the state about the boom in industrial construction that has already begun. The Council for a Better Louisiana will focus on the issues facing state and local leaders during its annual meeting in Baton Rouge on Thursday.

There is still very much on the table to talk about across south Louisiana as fracking has unleashed new sources of natural gas for industrial uses.

And who knows? Perhaps at some future date, Shell or other companies will come calling for a new GTL facility of similar size. The availability of natural gas is not likely to be a problem in future years, if the state and nation responsibly develop the new shale energy resources.