Sasol's ethane cracker project on schedule

Published: Nov. 3, 2015 at 12:05 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 2, 2016 at 12:05 AM CST
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(Source: KPLC)
(Source: KPLC)
(Source: KPLC)
(Source: KPLC)

WESTLAKE, LA (KPLC) - In March, Sasol broke ground on the $8.1 billion ethane cracker complex and began Phase 1 of the project. (Read more about it  HERE.)

Seven months later, the site has a new foundation and a few structures to make way for the actual ethane cracker.

"The progress has been fantastic. We're moving through the site preparation phase. We're starting to put in foundations. We're starting to pour concrete. We're starting to build operating units. So we're making the transition from site prep to actual facility construction," said Mike Hayes, Sasol's public affairs manager.

According to Hayes, Phase 1 of the project is on schedule. Construction crews spent the past seven months removing dirt, replacing it with structural soil and installing pilings for the project.

The ethane cracker portion of the project is expected to be completed in December 2017 but pieces of the project are starting to come together.

"We'll start, in the first quarter of next year, to erect operating equipment. We have a substation on site that is going up now so some of the early pieces are being put in place," he said.

This main substation was created with help from Entergy. It will deliver power to all the operating units on the site.

Hayes said around Thanksgiving, columns, drums, and boilers will be transported to Sasol from the dock property along the Calcasieu River. The trucks carrying the equipment will operate during the night, to avoid any inconvenience for residents.

As the for the dump truck traffic that caused concern a few months ago, residents can expect to see less of it as Phase 1 starts winding down.

"The biggest impact for both residents to the east and the west has been just been a lot of truck traffic — a lot of dump truck traffic in particular. Thankfully, that dump truck traffic, on the exterior roads, is winding down and we expect to be done by December with that traffic," said Hayes.

By next year, this site will start looking more complete.

The rest of Phase 1 includes expanding and reconstructing roads for heavy haul routes, like Sulphur Avenue, Old Spanish Trail, and Guillory Street.

Hayes said, for the most part, the expansion project has been beneficial to the community of Westlake.

"We understand (there has been) the expansion of several of the businesses in Westlake. Property tax collections will be going up; we understand that sales taxes set a record every month, so when you look at the impact, the impact of our project, while it's been mixed, it has been largely positive," he explained.

Hayes also said crews just completed three million man hours without a medical incident. Considering the high risk of potential injuries on site, he thinks this a big accomplishment.

Currently, there are 2,500 temporary workers doing construction work on site. Sasol also hired 210 permanent employees.

"Of those, 90 percent are from Louisiana, and I think 163 of them are from Calcasieu parish. Our Louisiana first effort is really working," he said.

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