Cajun Cajoling Adds Fuel to Energy Security Speculation

Cajun Cajoling Adds Fuel to Energy Security Speculation

Remember that multibillion-dollar plant for turning natural gas into liquid fuel that’s being courted for near Pine Bluff?

Well, there’s been no definitive declaration that it will land near Pine Bluff, although the CEO of the company behind the project, Roger D. Williams of Energy Security Partners of Little Rock, has said that “all indications are that Jefferson County will be our home.” The county’s Economic Development Corp. has bought 1,100 acres near the Arkansas River and leased the land to ESP.

On the other hand, Williams hasn’t expressly ruled out other sites, either, leading to local talk that competition is stirring to the south.

That would be across the Louisiana state line, where a potential site is said to be offering incentives.

The project has been touted as the most ambitious construction and economic development proposal in state history, with a first-phase construction cost of at least $3 billion. Williams, who offered a detailed defense of the feasibility of the project in Arkansas Business last week, said in an April 13 interview that a final decision would be made “in the next several months.”

In response to questions on Thursday about prospects for a site in Louisiana, Williams didn’t exactly lay doubts to rest.

“ESP has looked at a number of sites, and a number of sites have reached out to ESP,” he said in an email. “No final decision has been made, but the company has made a commitment to pursue the Pine Bluff location.”