Renewable fuel complex eyes Port of Greater Baton Rouge

Staff Report

The Greater Baton Rouge Metropolitan area – including Iberville and Ascension parishes -- may reap some benefits from one of the largest economic development projects in nearly 20 years for the Port of Greater Baton Rouge.

An artists rendering of a potential renewable fuel complex at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge.

Gov. John Bel Edwards and Fidelis Infrastructure co-founders Daniel J. Shapiro and Bengt Jarlsjo announced Tuesday, Nov. 10, that their portfolio company, Grön Fuels LLC, is studying the feasibility of a renewable fuel complex at the port.

With expansions and associated projects, the complex could involve up to $9.2 billion of total investment over several phases.

The project would be built in stages over nine years at a site leased from the port on the west bank of the Mississippi River, near Port Allen.

The first phase of construction would involve a capital investment of more than $1.25 billion and create 340 direct jobs by 2024.

The base project is expected to produce up to 60,000 barrels per day of low-carbon renewable diesel, with an option to produce renewable jet fuel utilizing non-fossil feedstocks, including soybean oil, corn oil and animal fats.

Upon completion of all phases – potentially by 2030 – the site would be one of the largest renewable fuel complexes in the world.

Through all phases and associated projects, the complex would create an estimated 1,025 direct jobs, with an average annual salary of $98,595, plus benefits.

Louisiana Economic Development officials estimate the project and subsequent phases would result in up to 4,560 new indirect jobs, for a total of 5,585 new jobs for the Capital Region.  

The announcement came one year after a bill sponsored by state Sen. Rick Ward, R-Port Allen, put the Port of Pointe Coupee under control of the Port of Greater Baton Rouge, the nation’s eighth largest port in terms of tonnage.

It also came after the Shell Corp. announced last week it will shut down a refinery 45 miles down La. 1 in Convent. The shutdown will result in the loss of nearly 700 full-time jobs and positions.

“This renewable fuel production facility will help to secure Louisiana’s place as a leader in environmentally friendly energy production,” Edwards said.

“Growing global demand for renewable transportation fuels creates a significant growth opportunity for our state.

“Once again, Louisiana’s port, rail and pipeline infrastructure and other logistical advantages are making possible an important industrial complex that will deliver many quality jobs for our skilled workforce.”

“Louisiana’s core strengths in the field of building and operating plants that produce fuels and products for the world, coupled with its logistically advantaged deep-water location at the nexus of energy and agriculture, serve as the launching point for a new ‘high tech’ transition of the region into the next generation of energy,” Fidelis Managing Partner Dan Shapiro said.

LED began formal project discussions with Fidelis Infrastructure about Grön Fuels in March 2020.

To secure the project, Louisiana offered a competitive incentive package – subject to a final investment decision – that includes the comprehensive solutions of LED FastStart, the nation’s No. 1 state workforce development program for the past 11 years.

The package also includes a performance-based grant of up to $15 million, payable at up to $2.5 million per year for six years, for project development and infrastructure.

The company also is expected to utilize the state’s Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs.

“The port is excited to have finalized the ground lease and assist Fidelis Infrastructure in advancing the investment in the Grön Fuels new renewable diesel project for Louisiana and the Greater Baton Rouge region,” said Executive Director Jay Hardman of the Port of Greater Baton Rouge.

“The project is great for the people of Louisiana, the port and the community and economic development mission it serves, the agricultural industry, and those who benefit from the clean fuels the plant will produce.”