Sempra LNG lease dispute discussed behind closed doors

By Lee Peck - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Two major ports in Southwest Louisiana go head to head, as Lake Charles and Cameron battle over who has jurisdiction over the Sempra LNG facility in Cameron Parish.

A lot is at stake when it comes to Sempra's billion dollar investment in Cameron. Governor Bobby Jindal's Office became involved back in mid July.  Monday night two representatives from Gov. Jindal's executive council were present, as were several Cameron representatives.

After conducting the business of their regular meeting, the Lake Charles Port Board along with Jindal's executive counsel met behind closed doors in executive session. At the center of the discussion - litigation filed by the West Cameron Port regarding the lease agreement Lake Charles Port has with Sempra. According to the West Cameron Port, they own the 218 acre track of land and the Lake Charles Port does not have jurisdiction.

The private meeting would last nearly two and half hours.

"It was a good discussion, very good discussion about how to make sure that we protect the jobs and economic development that Southwest Louisiana has had and specifically relating to the matter of litigation that the Port of Lake Charles and Port of West Cameron and that could impact the operation of Sempra," said Tim Barfield, Governor Jindal's executive counsel.

"It was great to meet face to face and to talk about all the things that we are thinking. It's time to go ahead and this is in the court system and let the litigation go through that process and in the meantime continue to work together. We are all searching for the same result. We want to make sure we are doing the right thing and saving jobs and economic development of the area," said Kay Barnett, Lake Charles Port Board President.

No action was taken at Monday night's meeting regarding this matter. Meanwhile the lease money paid by Sempra is being held in a court ordered account to protect the company's interests while the matter is resolved.

Cameron officials were not allowed in the executive session, nor did they comment on why they were there. The governor's executive counsel says they're set to have a similar face to face discussion with the West Cameron Port Commission some time on Tuesday.

(Copyright 2009 KPLC-TV. All rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)