Marathon coker unit loses tax-exempt bond eligibility

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 30, 2000

Daniel Tyler Gooden

LAPLACE – The issuing of parish bonds for the new Marathon Petroleum coker plant was taken out of the hands of the St. John Parish Council Wednesday when Marathon said the company is no longer eligible for the tax- exempt bonds.
“To get tax exempt bonds the coke must be worth zero,” said Larry Echelberger, division manager for Marathon.
With the price of energy so high the coke has increased in value from less than zero to a market price of between 50 cents to $1, added Echelberger.
Marathon will continue to build the coker facility without use of the pollution- control bonds, which would have saved the company an estimated $2 million.
Marathon has already pre-sold five years worth of coke to a company in Kentucky for $11 a ton. Costs associated with transporting the coke may run the sale into the red.
“Were just happy that the coke is worth more,” said Echelberger.
The parish council had voted unanimously in favor of issuing the bonds earlier this month. The council agenda on Wednesday called for the issuing of an initial $6 million in bonds. The total bond issuing could have been up to $25 million if Marathon had been eligible.
Also Wednesday, the council voted to approve the 2001 budget. The budget increases parish spending, mostly in capital projects. The $25 million spending plan will cover such items as new sewer projects, drainage projects, new roads and road repairs. Some of the projected spending has yet to be outlined by the parish.
Parish President Nickie Monica expects $26.3 million in revenues in the coming year, $300,000 more than this past year.