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Lockheed Martin to build LNG tanks at Michoud

Kevin Mcgill, Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Lockheed Martin Corp. plans to create 166 new jobs with a new project building tanks for liquefied natural gas storage and transportation at the eastern New Orleans facility where it once built huge fuel tanks for the space shuttle program.

Corporate officials and Gov. Bobby Jindal made the announcement Tuesday at the Michoud Assembly facility.

Lockheed Martin is making a $3 million capital investment in the new project, Jindal said at a news conference. He said the first phase of the project is expected to begin in December.

In addition to the 166 jobs created by the new project, Jindal said LED expects the project to spur creation of more than 230 related jobs.

Initially the 88-foot-long tanks will be used in the maritime industry to fuel ships and transport fuel, officials said. However, the corporation said it will be able to make tanks in varying sizes for land-based storage and for transport of LNG on land and water.

"This is a great example of taking technology developed for our space program for other purposes and then transforming it into private sector use," said Jindal.

Lockheed Martin will be eligible to take advantage of the state's industrial tax exemption for new or expanding business. Jindal said the company also is expected to take advantage of a Louisiana Economic Development Department program that helps screen and train employees and a 12 percent payroll rebate program that could be worth an estimated $7.6 million over 10 years.

State and local officials have been working to replace thousands of jobs lost at Michoud with the demise of the shuttle program. New projects include Blade Dynamics Inc.'s project to construct wind turbines, estimated to bring 600 in the next few years.