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Louisiana lands $550M methanol plant, 130 jobs

GEISMAR, La. (AP) -- Methanex Corp., a major producer of the alternative fuel methanol, announced Wednesday that it is moving an idle plant in Chile to Louisiana, creating 130 new jobs for the state.

The Vancouver-based company said it would spend $550 million to build on a 225-acre site in Ascension Parish, about 20 miles from Baton Rouge.

Salaries at the plant will average more than $56,000 plus benefits.

"Methanex chose Louisiana because of our world class infrastructure for the chemical and energy industries and our state's strong business climate," Gov. Bobby Jindal said in a statement.

Jindal's office said construction is expected to be finished in late 2014. Hiring is set to begin before the end of this year.

The state is giving Methanex $5.3 million as part of an incentive package: $3.8 million to pay for some infrastructure costs and $1.5 million to cover relocation expenses. The company also will get state and local tax breaks.

Methanex President and CEO Bruce Aitken said the company was attracted to Louisiana because of low natural gas prices, the large methanol consumption in the region and its work force.

About a third of worldwide methanol demand comes from transportation and energy uses, such as in biodiesel fuel. The alternative fuel also is used in windshield washer fluid, recyclable plastic bottles, plywood floors and paint.