Chemicals and petrochemicals group Sasol says its world-scale ethane cracker – the heart of its Lake Charles Chemicals Project (LCCP), in Louisiana, in the US – has reached beneficial operation.
The ethane cracker is the third and most significant of the seven LCCP facilities to come on line.
“The cracker is the cornerstone of Sasol’s transformation into a global chemicals company.
“It solidifies our presence in the US and will anchor our operations there for decades to come,” Sasol joint-president and CEO Stephen Cornell says.
The ethane cracker, which uses Technip Stone & Webster technology, is one of the largest in the world with a nameplate capacity of 1.54-million tons a year. About 90% of the cracker's ethylene output will be further processed into commodity and high-margin specialty chemicals for markets in which Sasol has a strong position, underpinned by collaborative customer relationships.
The ethylene produced in the facility will be used in six downstream plants on site to produce a range of high-value derivatives including ethylene oxide, mono-ethylene glycol, ethoxylates, low-density and linear low-density polyethylene, and Ziegler and Guerbet alcohols.
Sasol’s customers use these products as ingredients in detergents, fragrances, metalworking and lubrication fluids, abrasives, paints and coatings, film, food packaging, personal care products and many more applications and end-markets.
The remaining 10% of the ethylene will be sold on the merchant market and supply Sasol’s share of the high-density polyethylene joint venture with INEOS in Texas.
“With the first three units commissioned, plants representing more than 60% of the project’s total output are now on line.
“Our construction and commissioning teams are working flat out to deliver the rest of the units between November 2019 and the first quarter of 2020,” said joint-president and CEO Bongani Nqwababa adds.
At present, the cracker continues to operate stably at a capacity utilisation rate of around 50%. The current output is used by the LCCP’s downstream units and the remainder is sold to external customers.
The company will continue to focus on improving the ethylene quality and ramp up the plant in accordance with our plans.
To date, the project has generated more than 800 full-time quality manufacturing jobs, with up to 6 500 people on site during construction.