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Sasol Studies U.S. Ethylene

by Alexander H. Tullo
December 5, 2011 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 89, Issue 49

South Africa’s Sasol is conducting a feasibility study for a new ethylene cracker and derivatives complex at its site in Lake Charles, La. With the study, Sasol becomes the fourth company since the beginning of the year to announce that it is considering a U.S. ethylene cracker because of increased availability of ethane feedstocks from shale natural gas. The other companies are Dow Chemical, Shell Chemicals, and Chevron Phillips Chemical. Sasol says the cracker complex would be able to produce 1 million to 1.4 million metric tons of ethylene per year and cost between $3.5 billion and $4.5 billion. It expects to complete the study in the first half of 2013. Sasol already makes ethylene in Lake Charles, where it is constructing a plant that will make 1-octene and 1-hexene. In September, Sasol said it is considering a $10 billion complex that would use its Fischer-Tropsch process to make diesel, kerosene, and other products from natural gas. That project is slated for Louisiana’s Calcasieu Parish, where the Lake Charles plant is located. Separately, Sasol disclosed it has entered discussions to divest its stake in Arya Sasol Polymer Co., an Iranian ethylene and polyethylene joint venture with Iran’s National Petrochemical Co.


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