South Africa’s energy and chemicals company Sasol is to invest up to $14 billion in the construction of the world’s second largest gas-to-liquids plant in Louisiana, USA.

The front-end engineering and design (FEED) phase of development is already under way for the planned 96,000 barrels per day (bpd) facility, which will capitalise on the potential of significant natural gas reserves in the US in order to increase fuel output though the gas to liquid technology.

The outfit will be the second largest gas to liquid plant in the world, with Shell’s Pearl plant in Qatar being the only bigger operation globally.

“Through our innovative energy and chemicals technologies, we will provide the United States with world-class, cleaner-burning fuel, contribute to the country’s energy security, boost downstream manufacturing capacity, and diversify the utilization of domestic gas resources,” David Constable, chief executive officer of Sasol said on announcing Sasol’s involvement in the project.

“Sasol envisions a game-changing partnership with the State that could yield significant benefits not only for our company but for the community and for the country. 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,” Constable added.

The project is currently estimated to require investment of between $11 billion and $14 billion in order to install the 96,000 bpd facility; with construction planned in two phases of 48,000 bpd stages.

The instalment – which will also be the first of its kind in the USA – is expected to start production in 2018 when the first 48,000 bpd phase will begin operation, with the second phase due to begin output a year later.

Alongside the gas-to-liquids facility Sasol will also be involved in the installation of an ethane cracker which will produce 1.5 metric tonnes per annum of ethylene, and is set to become operational in 2017.

It is claimed that the project will create in excess of 1,200 permanent employment positions, as well as up to 7,000 construction positions while the plant is under development.


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