Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sasol announce major manufacturing project in western Louisiana

12 03, 2012 by The Times-Picayune

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal announced Monday that international energy and chemicals company Sasol Ltd. will invest between $16 billion and $21 billion in a major project in Westlake.

The project, a gas-to-liquids and ethane cracker complex, will create more than 1,200 direct jobs, the governor's office said.

"This project will be the largest single manufacturing investment in the history of Louisiana and it also represents one of the largest foreign direct investment manufacturing projects in the history of the entire United States," Jindal said Monday morning at the project's announcement at the facility on Houston River Road.

"Despite a national economic downturn, this historic economic development win is happening in Louisiana because we have been laser focused on job creation by creating an environment where businesses want to invest and create jobs for our people."

According to an economic impact study commissioned by Louisiana Economic Development and LSU, the project will produce a total economic impact over the next 20 years of $46.2 billion.

"Utilizing Sasol's innovative energy and chemicals technologies, these planned projects will unlock the potential of the continent's abundant natural gas resources," Sasol Ltd. CEO David Constable said.

"By incorporating GTL technology into the USA's energy mix, states such as Louisiana will be able to advance the country's energy independence, through a diversification of supply."

In early 2011, a 650-acre site near Sasol's existing facility in Westlake was determined to be a feasible location for the project. Since September 2011, a feasibility study was undertaken that prompted the move forward with the project.

Louisiana is at the forefront of new capital investment in the country, helping to drive the reindustrialization of the United States, analysts say.

In the past year and a half, capital investment projects amounting to tens of billions of dollars have already been announced in Louisiana.

Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret alluded to the Sasol project this month when he told that within the next three to four years, $50 billion worth of new industrial projects will be under way in Louisiana, including several of the largest manufacturing projects in national history.

This project will involve building an ethane cracking complex. Cracking, different from the controversial drilling process of fracking, involves more complex molecules being broken down into simpler ones by removing carbon bonds.

When this is done to ethane, ethylene is yielded. Ethylene is a compound most commonly used to manufacture alcohol and plastics based products such as solvents, surfactants and polymers.

Hiring for the facility will begin in 2014, with final completion of the project in 2017.