A $2.5 billion chemical plant may be getting closer to reality in Lake Charles.
Leucadia National Corp. said Monday that it's signed contracts to sell methanol, hydrogen and carbon dioxide from a plant that would convert an oil refinery byproduct called petroleum coke.
The petroleum coke gasification plant has been proposed for years. Originally it was going to turn coke into synthetic natural gas, but that plan was stalled by low natural gas prices.
Now Leucadia hopes to make different products. An engineer who's studied the process says the plant will still compete with methanol made from cheap natural gas, but selling carbon dioxide could make it economical even at current low gas prices. Leucadia is still looking for investors and hopes to start construction by mid-2013.