Mega-Project Considering Jefferson County, AR
February 16, 2016
Pine Bluff, Arkansas---The Economic Development Alliance for Jefferson County (Alliance) announces that Arkansas is being considered as the top location to build and operate a multibillion-dollar industrial processing facility that will convert natural gas into clean-burning diesel fuel. The project is being developed by Energy Security Partners LLC (ESP), headquartered in Little Rock.
ESP has identified a number of locations suitable to build and operate a natural gas-to-liquids (GTL) facility. The company sees Jefferson County as the prime choice for several reasons, the first of which is its strategic geographical value. “We believe Jefferson County is the best possible location for major industrial projects. It offers access to the Arkansas River, proximity to high voltage lines, interstate gas and product pipelines, access to a major railroad, a terrain with few streams or wetlands issues, and proximity to a major interstate,” says Bryan Barnhouse, Director of Economic Development for the Alliance.
ESP’s GTL facility will produce approximately 33,000 barrels per day of diesel and naphtha and has an anticipated capital cost of approximately $3 billion. The project calls for the creation of 225 new, permanent plant-operator positions with an average wage of $40 per hour. The construction period is anticipated to create or support more than 5,000 jobs within the state and add $333 million in annual labor income statewide, according to an economic impact analysis performed by EMSI, a recognized leader in labor market data and regional economic analysis.
The GTL project qualifies for incentives available through Jefferson County’s 3/8-cent sales tax, which voters approved in 2011 for economic development and is administered by the Economic Development Corporation of Jefferson County (EDCJC). The Alliance has been coordinating support for this project since ESP began discussions in 2013. The company completed its application for local incentives last summer. In January, the Jefferson County Industrial Foundation, a member organization of the Alliance, voted to recommend action by the EDCJC.
The EDCJC met this morning and approved resolutions expressing its intent to offer a formal incentives package of $3.925 million, and to use those incentive funds to purchase land, conduct site preparation, and support the installation of infrastructure. Upon completion of an incentives agreement, ESP will be required to meet specific construction milestones, job creation thresholds, and capital investment expectations in order to earn credits toward payback of the incentive amount. The intent is for ESP to use these credits to lease the property from the EDCJC and cover improvements costs.
George Makris, Chairman of EDCJC, comments “This package and this project are exactly in line with the purpose of the County’s voter-approved sales tax. The EDCJC recognizes the soundness of an incentive that develops industrial property to attract investment and supports a project of this magnitude. The economic impact of this project on Jefferson County will be transformational—we’re competing to win.”
“Jefferson County welcomes this project with open arms. Our economic development team has worked with Energy Security Partners over the past three years. Our hope is that this offer will instill the confidence that Jefferson County, Arkansas, is open for business and we are prepared to compete for big projects,” says Lou Ann Nisbett, President and CEO of the Alliance.
"I commend the Alliance and officials from Jefferson County along with ESP's leadership for taking these important steps. Once fully developed, this project could have significant economic impacts for southeast Arkansas,” says Mike Preston, Executive Director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.
“This demonstration of support by Jefferson County is a bold step that shows Arkansas can compete for big projects. This sends a strong signal to our investors, the industry, our contractors and strategic partners that we’ve identified an excellent place to locate with great people leading the effort,” says Roger Williams, CEO of Energy Security Partners.
About the Alliance: The Economic Development Alliance of Jefferson County, Arkansas, was created in 1994 as a non-stock, not-for-profit corporation and became operational on January 1, 1995. The Alliance was formed to unify community and economic development efforts in Pine Bluff and Jefferson County. www.jeffersoncountyalliance.com
About Energy Security Partners: Energy Security Partners is a leading developer of commercial-scale, natural gas-to-liquids projects in North America. With the abundance of clean, sustainable and affordable natural gas resources in the United States and Canada, North America has tremendous potential to realize significant economic and energy security benefits from converting domestic natural gas resources into liquid transportation fuels while reducing dependence on foreign petroleum imports. www.espgtl.com