Sasol enters next phase in quest to expand Westlake plant

By By Frank DiCesare / American Press

Sasol officials have entered the next phase in their quest to expand their Westlake plant with a multibillion-dollar GTL and

ethane cracker complex.

Earlier this month, company officials

applied for a water quality certification with the state Department of

Environmental

Quality and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. If granted, the

certification, which is part of the Clean Water Act, will assert

that Sasol’s proposed complex will not have an adverse effect on

water quality once it is built.

“We have to make that demonstration in

our Corps of Engineers permitting application,” said Michael Hayes,

Sasol’s public

affairs manager for U.S. megaprojects. “We will be disturbing some

jurisdictional wetlands. So we have to come up with a wetlands

offset, which are more wetlands that we have to create somewhere

else or pay someone else to create somewhere else.”

Slated for completion between 2017 and

2020, the $16 billion to $21 billion complex is expected to produce more

than 96,000

barrels of liquid fuels and chemicals each day. The ethane cracker

will create ethylene, which is used to make synthetic fibers,

detergents, paints and fragrances.

The project is expected to create 7,000 construction jobs and 1,200 permanent jobs.

“Keep in mind that’s not to say there

will be an effect on water quality after (the complex) is built,” said

Scott Guilliams,

DEQ’s water and waste permit administrator. “As part of the

Louisiana Pollution Discharge Elimination System permitting process,

we are required to look at water quality, as well (as the Army

Corps of Engineers). It’s just a separate track.”

Sasol submitted its application on Sept. 2. The application is now in the public comment period, which will end Sept. 23.

“Once this application is approved, the Corps can then continue their review of our permit application,” Hayes said. “At some

point they will take an action to either approve or disapprove our application. If they approve our application, then they

will take public comment on their proposed action.”

Jamie Phillippe, DEQ project manager, said the department’s criteria for determining water quality are site specific.

“But we still do ask for assurance that any excavated material will be cleaned,” he added.