PINE BLUFF, Ark. — An energy company has announced plans to build a gas plant in Jefferson County.

Energy Security Partners CEO Roger Williams said Tuesday that a site 10 miles north of Pine Bluff has been selected for the plant, which will convert natural gas into liquid. Williams says the plant is unlikely to open for at least five years.

The company plans to invest at least $3.5 billion in the project. Williams said the final stage was acquiring an easement for a road to run from the facility to the Arkansas River, where ESP plans to build docks for off-loading heavy equipment.

“River access is critical because of the size of the equipment we need for this project,” Williams said. He added that this equipment includes needing the “world’s largest crane.”

The building project is expected to bring more than 5,200 direct and related jobs and $333 million in wages across the state.

According to Williams, funding for the project will come from a mix of investment funds owned by international governments, infrastructure fund investors and banks. Gov. Asa Hutchinson says the state will thoroughly evaluate ESP and its plans before committing to help.

“As we do with all of our economic development projects, we commit to a significant due diligence process before investing taxpayer dollars,” Hutchinson said. “We are currently in this stage on this specific project.” Hutchinson also said she is delighted that Jefferson County is the chosen location for the project that will benefit Arkansas in many ways.

The project is billed as the largest economic development endeavor in Arkansas history.

Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette,