After closing its Convent refinery at the end of 2020, Shell confirmed its intention to relaunch the facility as an alternative fuels complex.
No timeline has been set for the project, but Shell senior vice president Rhoman Hardy said the company was no longer looking for buyers for the Convent facility.
“We now see the convent site as a place that we will reinvest in,” Hardy told the State Board of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday.
As part of a wider global shift from fossil fuels to renewable, low-carbon energy generation, Shell closed the Convent facility after failed attempts to sell it. The move cost nearly 700 full-time and 400 contract workers their jobs.
Shell had confirmed to The Advocate in October that it was studying the possibility of revamping the site for alternative fuels.
Hardy, who oversees Shell’s facilities on the Gulf Coast, said the company now sees Convent as a “hub for our production of the low-carbon fuel of the future”. He said Shell will pursue other low-carbon projects at all of its Louisiana sites, including its Geismar chemical plant and Norco manufacturing complex.
“Shell has operated in Louisiana in various guises over the past 100 years,” Hardy said. “I think the next set of projects will be the reason we’ll be here for the next 100 years and bring us in line with the governor’s climate ambition.”
Although the convent site is currently inactive with only around 20 staff checking it regularly, Hardy has approached the Board of Trade and Industry to seek an extension of the Industrial Tax Exemption Scheme contracts. of Shell for the property. Typically, a facility that closes would lose its contracts, but Shell has asked for a special exemption as it tries to get the property back on the market.
“It’s important for us to keep the current ITEPs renewed so that we can reuse and repurpose this facility as much as possible,” Hardy said.
The board granted Shell’s request for a one-year extension. Any changes or additions Shell makes to the site to bring it back to market should be referred to the Board.
The ITEP claim became part of a complex legal dance between Shell and St. James Parish over how much Shell would pay in taxes for the property while it was bankrupt.
To crush any potential conflict, Shell signed a memorandum of understanding with the parish government, school board and sheriff’s office to continue making payments on the property and its inventory.
St. James assessor Glenn Waguespack said Shell agreed to pay $17.4 million in property taxes for the 2021 tax year, $10 million for 2022 and $4.5 million in 2023. The numbers are gradually decreasing as the facility is not expected to come back online anytime soon. . Shell paid around $19.4 million in 2020, Waguespack said.
“A factory that does not work, no matter how much we value it. It does not work and generates no income. It’s basically worth coins and coins. And the pieces and pieces, some are 20, 30 and 40 years old,” he said. “It would be very difficult to find a value.”
St. James leaders, including parish president Pete Dufresne and school board member George Nassar Jr., have indicated their support for Shell’s decision to revitalize its convent complex.
“Shell has been a very, very good community partner for St. James Parish over the years,” said Nassar, who also sits on the Board of Trade and Industry.