Friday, September 28, 2012

The River Parish Mystery Plant

I haven't seen a print edition of The Advocate in probably 15 years or so.  I know there were some free copies available around town this week. But I didn't get a chance to snag one.  Does anyone know if they still publish a puzzle?  Because  it looks to me like they just decided to fold the brain teasers right into the reporting.

Take this story for example. It's about a "mysterious" industrial project of some sort which, according to scuttlebutt, may be sited in St. James or Ascension Parish some time in the near future.   
Sites in St. James and Ascension parishes are being eyed for a “large” but mysterious industrial project that some officials have described as being bigger than the $3.4 billion Nucor Corp. steel mill being built in Romeville, St. James Parish officials said.
Who is building the plant? No one can say! What will it produce? No one will tell! Obviously all of the "officials" and "stakeholders" either named or unnamed in the article know the answers to those questions and, I get the distinct impression that the reporter knows as well.  But he's not telling us either. No, I'm not sure why, but man does that make it fun.

Here's what we do know about that so far. We know it's a "large but mysterious industrial project" that might be bigger than Nucor. The article also tells us it's "tied to the energy sector," and that it is nicknamed, "Project Frontier"

There's more "what" but before we get there it's helpful to note some of the "why"s. For example, there's this sentence which appears to give us conflicting information.
A county in Texas also is being looked at for the project that appears to be tied to the energy sector and is trying to take advantage of Mississippi River access and low natural gas prices due to advances in shale exploration, parish officials said.
How is a "county in Texas" going to "take advantage of Mississippi River access"? We aren't told.  But it does raise the specter of interstate competition for an economic development project which, of course, always necessitates the following.
..the prospective facility was mentioned as part of a broader discussion on local tax incentives during a closed gathering of representatives of major St. James Parish taxing jurisdictions about a month ago at the Parish Courthouse in Convent, St. James Parish officials said.
Who is discussing tax incentives for the giant mysterious "energy sector" natural gas thingamajig on the river? Practically every elected official of consequence in St. James Parish, to start. The Advocate names several who attended this strategy meeting.
St. James Parish President Timmy Roussel said the officials had gathered to discuss “what we can live with and what we can’t live with, and we needed all of the stakeholders’ opinions.”
What can they live with? Roussel isn't ready to say.  He also isn't giving up any details about the project because, 
Roussel said he could offer few details on Project Frontier, such as what company is behind it, because he has signed a non-disclosure agreement.
The same goes, of course, for the whole of the St. James Parish  taxing authorities assembled at the meeting. The same, again, goes for Ascension Parish officials who, the reporter hints, are just as well coordinated and, of course, every bit as mum.
Ascension Parish officials had less to say. Parish President Tommy Martinez referred calls Wednesday to Mike Eades, president and chief executive officer of the parish’s chief economic development arm.

Eades declined comment Wednesday.
In all, The Advocate points to 10 Parish and State officials who have probably signed a confidentiality agreement with the major gas refinery project they're currently negotiating tax breaks with.  And now that we know that, the big "mystery" of just who they're planning to give that away to hardly seems like the most relevant fact anymore.

Note: According to The Hayride, it's probably a Gas-To-Liquid fuel refinery to be operated by either Shell or Sasol. The Advocate leaves hints that point to this as well but... for whatever reason... doesn't just come out and say it.


Argol said...

I got this from da Gov in an email yesterday:

This week we announced another major economic development win for Louisiana. ExxonMobil is making a $215 million capital investment to expand the company's Baton Rouge Chemical Plant and Port Allen Lubricants Plant to produce synthetic aerospace lubricants and other products. As the Baton Rouge Advocate reported, this expansion will create 45 new, direct jobs and retain more than 2,600 jobs at ExxonMobil. The project will also result in the creation of 389 new, indirect jobs in the area which means this win will create more than 400 new jobs in the Capital Region

Clay said...

Umm. The Hayride is wrong. Pearl didn't cost $16 billion. That was an estimate from ~2007. The plant only came fully online about last year or so. By the time they actually completed the plant, brought it online, (with all ancillary infrastructure), and worked out all the kinks, the total cost was ~10% of Shells total global capitalization ($100+ Billion dollars). Those GTL plants use a lot of rare metals (lots of Inconel, etc.), and have catalysts that are extremely expensive.

In GTL plants, they are so CAPEX-intensive, they generally only break even on the actual liquid-fuels part. The main reason to build a GTL plant (other than to utilize stranded gas) is to get some extremely high-value, high-purity lubricants and industrial waxes.

If that gets built, that's an enormous project. Think Hoover Dam big.

candice said...

2 crosswords and a sudoku, bridge, a "cipher", and the damned family circus cartoon on the puzzle page. sigh.

celcus said...

The usual crackerjack reporting by the Advocate, there. Waiting on the restaurant review for Shoneys.