An idled methanol plant currently located in Chile will soon be relocated to Geismar, La.

Methanex Corp., the plant owner, has hired Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. to complete EPC services for the project. The companies estimate that the construction value will total $550 million.

Methanex made the final decision to relocate the plant on July 25. Relocation, compared to a new-build, will offer some capital savings and a reduced project time frame.

The facility is being moved for several reasons, according to Methanex, including the North American shale gas boom, which has created a competitive environment for methanol production. Additionally, the company pointed out that the Gulf Coast and Geismar in particular present a low-risk business environment. North America is a key global methanol market for Methanex, and the relocated plant will support the company’s efforts.

Methanex representatives say the dismantling process has already begun, while Jacobs has already engaged in site-specific engineering and construction management for the new 225-acre Geismar location.

“Jacobs is leveraging its global footprint to complete this project.  With Baton Rouge as the lead office, offices in Chile, the United Kingdom and India will all play critical roles in delivering this project on schedule and budget,” says Jacobs Group Vice President Mike Autrey.

As for local impacts, Methanex expects the project to bring in around 1,500 construction jobs over the next two years, followed by around 130 permanent full-time jobs about a year before plant start up.

The plant itself will be shipped in large pieces and modules where possible, using dedicated sips for the majority of the components, according to Methanex.

This will be Methanex’s first methanol facility to be located in the United States in more than a decade. Both companies estimate that the facility will be operational in the second half of 2014, and will produce a million tonnes of methanol each year.


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