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New carbon capture plant project coming to Louisiana, bringing hundreds of jobs to region

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Austin R. Ramsey/IRW + WWNO
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The bank of the Mississippi River north of Baton Rouge is dotted with petrochemical plants, oil refineries and paper mills.

An industrial gas provider is moving to Ascension Parish with plans to build a $4.5 billion clean energy facility, Louisiana officials announced Thursday.

Air Products, the company responsible for the project, will create 170 direct jobs with an average salary of $93,000, more than 400 indirect jobs in the region and more than 2,000 construction jobs over the three years it will take to build the facility near the community of Burnside. The project is expected to be operational in 2026.

“This is a major investment that will create quality manufacturing jobs while limiting environmental impacts,” Edwards said in a statement. “Carbon capture and sequestration are important to Louisiana’s efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions while maintaining jobs and growing our manufacturing base.”

The facility will be the largest permanent carbon sequestration endeavor in the world, Edwards said.

“Ascension Parish is committed to being a leader in the new clean energy economy and values our continued relationship with Air Products,” Ascension Parish President Clint Cointment said. “This project will not only make a significant investment in our parish but will also add high-quality employment opportunities for the residents of our community.”

Each day the planned complex will produce 750 million standard cubic feet of “blue hydrogen,” a fuel commonly used in refineries and petrochemical plants, state and company officials said in a statement. Approximately 95% of the carbon dioxide created in the fuel production process will be captured before entering the atmosphere and piped to underground storage facilities miles away where it will be sequestered permanently.

Air Products President and CEO Seifi Ghasemi said a portion of “blue hydrogen” produced at the facility will be sold and transported to chemical facilities along the company’s 700 miles of pipeline between New Orleans and Galveston.

The carbon capture and sequestration process is a key part of the state’s plan, and a priority of its newly created 23-member climate task force, to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and reach “net zero” by 2050.

Louisiana’s subterranean geography and proximity to large-scale industrial facilities that produce vast amounts of carbon dioxide make the state uniquely positioned to invest in carbon capture and storage.

“I think the risk, quite frankly, to all of us is not doing projects of this type,” Edwards said. “There’s an energy transformation underway and we’re powerless to stop it … We need to affect the impact of climate change by reducing our carbon footprint, and this allows us to attack that in multiple ways.”

State officials and Louisiana’s oil, gas and chemical industries have been in favor of pushing for more carbon capture opportunities, but environmental advocates say this technology could lead to even more investments in fossil fuel infrastructure, which won’t help climate change trends.

Ghasemi said his company, which has worked on developing the project for the last four years, will self-finance the construction of the facility.

“What we are announcing today is not an intention of what we want to do,” Ghasemi said. “It is not a memorandum of understanding. It is a final investment decision that we are actually going to do this.”

Air Products will receive a $5 million performance grant from the state to offset some of the infrastructure costs associated with the project, and the company could have up to an 80% tax abatement through the state’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program — if local government officials sign off. Air Products may also receive up to a 6% cash rebate for payroll expenses through the state’s Quality Jobs program.