St James was a little-known parish along the Mississippi in the southern US state of Louisiana. But now it is well-known as it has attracted the largest Chinese-invested green field project in the Gulf Coast region.
Shandong Yuhuang Chemical, a private company based in eastern China’s Shandong province, Friday held a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the kick-off of its US$1.5 billion methanol project in St James Parish.
The ceremony attracted more than 100 people, including state officials from Louisiana, the Chinese consulate general in Houston, the US Department of Commerce and local community leaders and business partners of its US subsidiary Yuhuang Chemical (YCI), which will oversee the project with an annual capacity of 1.8 million tons of methanol once it is completed in 2018.
Wang Jinshu, chair of Shandong Yuhuang Chemical, is confident that this project will be a great success and bring more benefits to the two countries and its’ peoples. “It’s estimated that China will need more than 20 million tons of methanol per year after 2017, and it’s very likely that we (our US company) will export all the products to China. This will help improve the trade balance and reduce the trade deficit between China and the United States,” Wang said.
Calling the project “a shining jewel” in US-China economic exchanges, Chinese consul general in Houston Li Qiangmin said the ceremony comes at an opportune time as Xi will pay a state visit to the United States next week, ushering in the establishment of a new type of major-country relationship and a new era. Li believed that this project not only marks the first Chinese-invested green field project in the state, but also represents the largest Chinese- invested project in the southern United States.
Meanwhile, John McKiel, a senior international investment specialist with the US Department of Commerce, said that foreign direct investment has become an essential part of US economic growth, and China is a fast-growing source of foreign investment in America.
Chinese government data showed that Chinese investment in the United States reached US$4.43 billion in the first eight months of 2015, up 35.9% from a year ago.
For Louisiana lieutenant governor Jay Dardenne, the project is “a wonderful and exciting development” for his state. “The scope of the project is massive…(The) construction (of the plant) is estimated to create 2,300 jobs for our state,” he said.
The past 18 months have witnessed significant progress made by Yuhuang, which successfully purchased a green field of 1,300 acres, got the air permit, completed all the basic design and FEED (front end engineering design), and inked a 20-year pipeline contract with US natural gas company Williams to secure future gas transportation, said Charlie Yao, CEO of Yuhuang Chemical.
“Looking forward, once the sugar cane field is cleared, the construction will start in earnest within two months. Our objective is to begin delivering products in the first quarter of 2018,” he said.
Yao said that Wang’s vision is to build a major chemical complex here. After methanol plant No. 1, they will build plants No. 2 and No. 3. Moreover, the company plans to implement many projects in the parish and state. The unabridged version of the article can be found here.
On Thursday evening, CCTV-America broadcast and interview with MI’s Greg Dolan focusing on the resurgence of methanol production in the US, and the potential to use methanol as a vehicle and marine fuel. Click here to watch the interview!