Mississippi Gasification decides against $2B plant on Coast

MOSS POINT — Mississippi Gasification will not build a $2 billion plant on the former International Paper Co. site in Moss Point.

The decision came in an announcement yesterday that the company would not renew a lease for the plant site.

Mississippi Gasification, owned by New York-based Leucadia National Corp., planned to turn petroleum coke, a byproduct of crude oil refineries, into substitute natural gas for industrial customers across the Southeast. Plans were to open the plant by mid-2015. The company expected to create about 175 full-time jobs.

The company decided last year to change its product slate from substitute natural gas to methanol.

The company notified the Jackson County officials in late June that it will not extend the current lease option under the terms and conditions of the agreement.

“We are disappointed, but respect Mississippi Gasification’s decision,” Jackson County Supervisor Mike Mangum said.

International Paper announced it would close in June 2001, and the county bought the property for future redevelopment in late 2003.

Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005 soon after the property was demolished and cleaned up, and it was then used for hurricane debris disposal for almost two years. The property hadn’t been on the market for very long when Leucadia first showed interest.

George Freeland, executive director of the Jackson County Economic Development Foundation, said local officials are committed to recruiting another company for the site.

“It’s not as though this property has ever fallen off the radar,” Freeland said.

He said interest could come from utility companies, the Mississippi Development Authority and others.

“All of those entities have been put on notice that the property is back on the market.

“With rail connectivity, port access, interstate access, abundant electric supply, abundant process and potable water and high volume gas capacity, the property has all the features necessary to attract a broad range of industrial users,” Freeland said.

Leucadia still plans a similar plant in Lake Charles, La. It is embroiled in a lawsuit in Indiana over a gasification operation there.

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