Jindal, Westlake Chemical CEO Albert Chao announce completion of New Chlor-Alkali Plant in Geismar

DERON TALLEY, EDITOR @DeRonTalley

Governor Bobby Jindal and Westlake Chemical President and CEO Albert Chao highlighted the company’s completion of a $425 million chlor-alkali plant in Geismar on Wednesday at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales.

“This announcement not only benefits us at Westlake, but also the community here in Ascension Parish and the State of Louisiana,” Westlake Chemicals President and CEO Albert Chao said.

Westlake created 70 new direct jobs with the expansion and retained 75 existing employees. The Louisiana Economic Development team estimates the project will result in an additional 384 indirect jobs, for a total of 454 new jobs. Development of the new chlor-alkali plant began in 2010 and created 2,000 construction jobs at peak activity.

“Westlake Chemical is a major economic driver in Louisiana, and its decision to reinvest in our state represents a tremendous vote of confidence in Louisiana’s outstanding business climate, workforce and infrastructure,” Governor Jindal said at the dedication ceremony.

Jindal said he’s proud of Westlake’s history in the state and the economic growth and added value that it provides.

“With companies like Westlake Chemical, Louisiana’s reputation in the chemical industry will continue to grow and shape this vital sector,” Jindal said. “This project will provide high-quality jobs and great career opportunities for the people of our state for many years to come.”

The addition of the chlor-alkali plant provides Westlake with a key feedstock material for the company’s adjacent vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plant in Geismar. The chlor-alkali plant will feature 350,000 tons per year of chlorine capacity and 385,000 tons per year of caustic soda capacity in support of its manufacturing operations in Ascension Parish. Commercial operations of the chlor-alkali plant began in December. Westlake Chemical’s new direct jobs will result in an additional $6 million in annual payroll at the Geismar site, which also supports 20 core contractor employees.

Westlake Chemical Corporation has been in Geismar since 2002 when it acquired the vinyl manufacturing assets of Borden Chemicals at the site.

The new facility is adjacent to the existing facilities and the construction of this new plant is consistent with our vertical integration strategy, and will allow the company to continue to expand and optimize its vinyls chain.

Chao said the company has enjoyed a long and rewarding relationship with Louisiana since the company’s inception in Lake Charles in 1986.

“Since then, we have seen our footprint grow substantially and invested over $2.5 billion in the state, in grassroots construction and other capital expansions,” Chao said. “Additionally, we employ 625 direct employees and 125 contractor employees in Louisiana. Our Louisiana operations are a vital hub for our enterprise and we are proud to be a responsible corporate citizen of the great State of Louisiana.”

Westlake provides PVC pipe for water and sewer applications, PVC siding, windows, fencing and other building products in the marketplace. The new facility will allow Westlake to be more fully integrated through a streamlined production model, as the company will be able to use internally produced chlorine to support its vinyl manufacturing operations.

The State of Louisiana assisted Westlake Chemicals in securing $89 million in GO Zone Bond financing for the project, which constituted a portion of the $425 million capital investment. In addition, Westlake will utilize the state’s Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs.

Jindal added, “We’re going to continue to work hard to keep bringing in the business. The best is yet to come. We want our kids to be able to chase their dreams here and work here.”