Sasol recently announced final approval of an $8.1 billion ethane cracker and derivatives complex near Westlake. It also continues to progress a proposed $11 billion to $14 billion gas-to-liquids, or GTL, facility through the front-end engineering and design phase. Poised to employ more than 1,200 people in Southwest Louisiana, the combined Sasol projects stand as the largest manufacturing investment in the history of Louisiana, and one of the largest foreign direct investment manufacturing projects in U.S. history. Sasol Senior Vice President of U.S. Operations Mike Thomas shares the company’s innovation story:
[Q] What inspired Sasol to invest in Southwest Louisiana?
[A] Sasol considered multiple sites across the U.S. for its growth projects. Sasol focused on the U.S. Gulf Coast because of its robust energy and chemicals industry and access to the best natural gas infrastructure in North America. We specifically looked at Louisiana because it offered a business-friendly climate, predictable regulatory structures, attractive incentives and a high-quality workforce.
[Q] What is Sasol doing that no other company is doing?
[A] The U.S. shale gas revolution, coupled with the current wide differential between gas and oil prices, has created attractive opportunities for Sasol’s continued growth and investment in the U.S. market. Sasol is constructing a world-scale ethane cracker and derivatives complex near Westlake. It also continues to progress a proposed GTL facility through the front-end engineering and design phase. Sasol’s transformational GTL and chemicals technologies will help unlock the potential of abundant natural gas resources, provide the U.S. with world-class, cleaner-burning fuel, contribute to the country’s energy security and support expanded domestic manufacturing.
[Q] How is Sasol impacting the Louisiana economy?
[A] Sasol’s projects mark the largest single manufacturing investment in the history of Louisiana and one of the largest foreign direct investment manufacturing projects in U.S. history. These projects will create more than 1,200 full-time positions, more than 5,000 construction jobs at peak construction and thousands of indirect jobs across the United States. According to National Economic Research Associates (NERA) Economic Consulting, our projects will also increase Louisiana personal income by an additional $2 billion per year and Louisiana gross state product by $4.2 billion per year. We are proud to be embarking on a new phase of significant expansion and investment that will foster growth and economic development in the region.
[Q] What challenges did Sasol face, and how did the company overcome them?
[A] With more than $70 billion in announced projects, Southwest Louisiana companies may be faced with an overheated labor market. The State of Louisiana has already taken measures to address this issue by investing $20 million into a SOWELA Technical Community College training facility, which will be utilized by Sasol to support its workforce needs for temporary and full-time employees.We’ve already had a number of successes in our workforce preparation efforts. LED’s FastStart® program has developed a comprehensive Workforce Solutions Plan for Sasol to ensure we have qualified applicants with proper screening in place. With the support we’ve received from our state and local governments as well as from the community, we believe we are well positioned on workforce development.
[Q] What do you think individuals not in Louisiana should know about the state?
[A] Louisiana has a booming economy, low unemployment rate and one of the best records of private-sector job growth in the country. And with announced capital investment projects approaching $70 billion in Southwest Louisiana alone, the future is bright for the Pelican State. Sasol has been a part of the Southwest Louisiana community for more than a decade and our more than 400 employees are proud to call Louisiana home.