As we begin 2019, construction of several large industries is nearing completion and they are beginning operation. This is the goal for long-term and sustainable growth for our region. The permanent jobs created after construction is when our region gets tremendous benefits, not only in taxes to our local governments, but in high-paying jobs for our residents.
Cheneire Energy at Johnson Bayou is completing the fifth train and has been exporting Louisiana gas worldwide for some time. Cameron LNG at Hackberry will soon be in operation. Sasol announced its new U.S. linear low-density polyethylene unit has achieved beneficial operations — the first of the seven Lake Charles chemical projects to come online. This is one of two polyethylene plants at the site. The second plant is scheduled to come online later this year. The remaining Lake Charles manufacturing units are expected to reach beneficial operations throughout 2019 and early 2020.
Lotte Chemical Louisiana has started production on its ethylene glycol manufacturing plant. The project which broke ground in 2016 will also include an ethane cracker plant and is expected to create more that 250 new direct jobs and over 2,000 indirect jobs. Lotte Chemical is the first Korean petrochemical company to put a project in the U.S. The company will move its corporate headquarters from Houston to Lake Charles which is a very significant first for our area.
The United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has reached an agreement that could provide a path forward for consideration of LNG export terminals that were pending before the commission. FERC said last week that it applied a new approach for consideration of direct greenhouse gas emissions from LNG facilities in light of the commission awarding Venture Global LNG a regulatory permit to site, construct, and operate the Calcasieu Pass LNG project in Cameron Parish. FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee said it has been his priority to expedite the LNG terminal application review process. He added the FERC’s multi-pronged approach to improve its process over the past year put the agency in a position to move forward efficiently with the other 12 pending LNG projects.
After the FERC action, Venture Global LNG said it will start construction immediately on its $5 billion project.
Tellurian has said its Driftwood LNG project has been granted the final environmental impact statement. Tellurian’s President and CEO Meg Gentle said they look forward to receiving FERC’s order granting authorization to site, construct and operate the Driftwood project. Gentle said Tellurian will then stand ready to make a final investment decision and begin construction in the first half of this year, with the first LNG expected in 2023.
Additionally at least two other LNG projects appear ready to begin construction this year along with another fuel facility.
As completion nears on $44 billion in projects, this year could see projects totaling over $35 billion begin construction. There is another $30 billion in announced projects which could begin as early as 2020. The construction phase continues and the permanent jobs are coming on-line.
This should quiet skeptics who ask, “is the boom over”? No, it’s really just beginning and the economic future of Southwest Louisiana is strong.