Promising economic multipliers from Louisiana’s tight bond with natural gas, defense and space giant Lockheed Martin said Tuesday it plans to transfer its nearly four decades of building space shuttle tanks to the expanding use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for storage and transportation.

The new foray by the industrial giant is being described as a way to capture current economic advantages of natural gas and also help lower the nation’s carbon footprint.

Leaders in Louisiana hailed the announcement and said the venerable defense contractor would be leveraging technologies developed for its government clients in the past and making them available to private-sector operators today. The move can help drive Louisiana’s and the nation’s economic rebound, according to Gov. Bobby Jindal and Lockheed Martin President Gerry Fasano.

Lockheed Martin made clear the LNG tank business is part of a larger, longer-range business plan for the company, which employs 120,000 workers worldwide and had net sales of $47.2 billion last year. The focus will be squarely on Louisiana, and particularly the New Orleans area. Jindal declared that his state intends to “stay at the forefront of the natural gas boom” by adding new applications and technologies.

The Lockheed LNG tank manufacturing team will draw on a variety of capabilities, including propellant handling; assembly, test and integration; composites manufacturing; and production facility and tooling design.

With that sort of resume, Lockheed Martin is preparing to transform parts of its sprawling organization to manufacture LNG tanks in varying sizes and capacities for private-sector transportation applications, including land, rail and waterway distribution of the fuel, along with land-based storage.

All tanks would be designed and manufactured to American Society of Mechanical Engineers standards for pressurized storage and transportation of cryogenic materials, a Lockheed Martin spokesperson said.

Fasano said initiatives like the LNG tank business can “help exploit the economic advantages of natural gas while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

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