Sasol plant up and running

Second plant on target to start later this year

The first of Sasol’s seven chemical product manufacturing plants recently began operations at its Westlake site, with a second plant set to start up later this year, officials said Thursday.

Michael Kane, vice president of operations at the site, said the first unit will produce 470,000 tons of low-density polyethylene per year, with the second plant producing 420,000 tons of polyethylene annually.

“Both are world-scale plants,” Kane said. “This is really an exciting day for us. We’ve been looking forward to it for a very long time.”

The Sasol site centers around an ethane cracker, which is expected to be up and running by July, Kane said. Until then, Sasol is purchasing ethylene from a Gulf Coast network that includes other suppliers, he said.

The remaining chemical project manufacturing units are expected to begin operations throughout this year and into early 2020, Kane said. Starting up operations at the first plant is “just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

“This represents a success story for us to get to this point,” Kane said. “It represents a culmination of partnering with the state and (Calcasieu) Parish in a way that brought this part of an economic engine to life.”

Sasol has hired 650 of the 1,100 employees working at the site, with the other 450 working there before the expansion, Kane said. More than 80 percent of those newer hires are from Louisiana, while 71 percent are from Calcasieu Parish.

Because the remaining manufacturing plants will start up in sequence, the roughly 6,000 construction workers and craftsmen will continue to work at the site, he said.

“We see ourselves as a very viable entity,” Kane said. “This is bigger than one plant.”

Kane said Sasol has invested $40 million worth of infrastructure in Southwest Louisiana, with $35 million focused on Westlake. Another $5 million was invested in nonprofits throughout the region. Starting this year, the site is expected to generate $6.2 million in local taxes and $7.5 million in state taxes annually. “It’s a very visible part of an underlying philosophy that we invest in our community,” he said. “And this is the payoff.”””

In this file photo, officials closed roads Wednesday, January 6, 2018 to allow Sasol to transport a 50-foot-tall section of an ethane cracker.

Crime

Family: Woodson didn’t deserve brutality he suffered

Local News

Return home just the start for McNeese basketball

Local News

SW La. school lunch menus Jan. 18-21

Local News

Students get hands-on science lesson on health care

Local News

COVID-related staffing shortages affecting hospitals

Jim Beam

Jim Beam column:’One Small Step’ might do it

Local News

McNeese arena opens for first time since hurricane — and with new name

Local News

Pilot, passenger presumed dead in helicopter crash

Business News

Cassidy critical of Biden’s energy policies

Business News

Police jurors prioritizing feedback to build back better

Crime

1/14: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff announces arrest list

Local News

SW La. nightlife calendar: There’s something to do everyday this weekend

Local News

‘This Same Dusty Road — Huckaby exhibit opens at Historic City Hall

Local News

‘Points of View’ — Dugas exhibit explores connection, how we perceive world

Business

Future plans for SW La. focus of Chamber banquet

Local News

La. to get about $1 billion for bridges from new federal program

Local News

Delton Carter LC’s newest fire chief

Local News

Weekend frontal system could bring storms to SW La.

Business News

Port helps local rice producers deliver to international markets

Local News

UPDATE: COVID shuts down five schools in Allen

Local News

Three Calcasieu schools remain closed due to COVID

Crime

1/13: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff announces arrest list

Local News

Supreme Court halts COVID-19 vaccine rule for US businesses

Local News

BREAKING: Five Allen schools to close Friday due to illnesses