HAHNVILLE, La. (AP) — Construction on a $700 million expansion at Valero Refinery's St. Charles Parish plant is expected to begin sometime in late 2015 or early 2016.
The plant occupies roughly 1,000 acres along the Mississippi River in Norco. The expansion will include construction of a large methanol unit, designed to compress natural gas into liquid in order to manufacture chemicals and plastics.
The company's community relations director, Taryn Rogers, tells The Times-Picayune (http://bit.ly/14b4FUa ) that Valero selected St. Charles Parish for the expansion because of its closeness to the Mississippi River and its docks as well as "the pro-business environment in Louisiana."
The project, Rogers said, is the result of low natural gas prices, and will create at least 100 construction jobs, and more than two dozen permanent jobs at the plant.
St. Charles Parish Assessor Tab Troxler said the plant expansion will have a profound effect on the parish's tax rolls. In 2012, Valero paid roughly $12 million in property taxes in St. Charles Parish. Troxler said the expansion could pour another $3 million to $5 million into the tax base.
"I think a lot of people don't realize just how important industries are from a tax standpoint, to our local economy and our taxing districts," Troxler said. "Eighty eight percent of all property tax paid in St. Charles Parish is from industry."
The total tax roll in St. Charles Parish is roughly $131 million and $115.3 million comes from industry, including Valero, Monsanto, Motiva and Entergy, among others.
"We're always pleased that there are expansions," Troxler said. "It says we are in a good business climate, not only in the parish but in the state. The market is strong, and people are looking to invest here in St. Charles Parish. That's a real positive."
Valero's Vice President of Communications Bill Day said that although the expansion is in the works, it is far from a done deal.
"We still need to get our necessary permits," Day said. "This project is not finalized or scheduled yet."