Natural Gas Sasol proposes gas-to-liquids plant for Louisiana | September 19, 2011 Issue - Vol. 89 Issue 38 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 89 Issue 38 | p. 9 | News of The Week
Issue Date: September 19, 2011

Natural Gas Sasol proposes gas-to-liquids plant for Louisiana

Department: Business
Keywords: Gas to liquids, Fischer-Tropsch, GTL, shale

South African fuels and chemicals giant Sasol has unveiled plans to build a gas-to-liquids complex—entailing a possible investment of between $8 billion and $10 billion—in Calcasieu Parish, La.

The company is conducting a feasibility study for the plant over the next 18 months. The plant would take natural gas, largely procured from the nearby Haynesville natural shale formation, and gasify it into syngas, which is a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. Using its Fischer-Tropsch process and subsequent upgrading, Sasol would convert the syngas into diesel fuel, kerosene, naphtha, liquified petroleum gas, and chemical feedstocks.

The firm is still weighing options such as plant capacity, which could range from 2 million to 4 million metric tons of output per year. Nor has the company selected the exact slate of products the complex would produce. If the study goes according to plan, Sasol will begin construction in 2013 and complete the project, in phases, by 2018.

Sasol operates a chemical site in Lake Charles, La., which is also in Calcasieu Parish. There, Sasol makes ethylene, synthetic alcohols, solvents, and surfactants. It is also building an ethylene tetramerization plant on that site, which will make 1-octene and 1-hexene.

“Without question, the Haynesville Shale and other unconventional natural gas plays are transforming the energy economy in the U.S., and we are positioning Louisiana to be one of the chief beneficiaries of that transformation,” said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, in a statement about the Sasol investment.

Natural gas shale has spurred a rash of plans for new ethylene steam crackers and chemical plant expansions on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Sasol is also considering a gas-to-liquids plant for western Canada, where it has purchased natural gas shale assets.

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