Integrated chemicals and energy company Sasol on Tuesday confirmed that there had been an explosion and fire at the low-density polyethylene (LDPE) unit at its Lake Charles Chemicals Project (LCCP), in the US.
The company said the fire had been extinguished and that all employees and contractors were safe and accounted for.
The new LDPE unit had not yet achieved beneficial operations (BO) as planned for in December.
The unit was in the final stages of commissioning and start-up when the incident occurred.
The unit was shut down and an investigation was under way to determine the cause of the incident, the extent of the damage and the resulting impact of the LDPE unit’s BO schedule.
All other LCCP units and previously commissioned LCCP units were unaffected and operating to plan, Sasol reported.
The remaining three downstream units under construction to complete the integrated LCCP site, Ziegler alcohols and alumina, alcohol ethoxylates and Guerbet alcohols, were also unaffected and remained within cost and schedule, it pointed out.
The company’s share price on the JSE fell by just over 6% on Tuesday afternoon.
This is the latest setback for the LCCP. In October 2019, then Sasol co-CEOs Stephen Cornell and Bongani Nqwababa resigned amid shareholder pressure after a review of the project had determined that it was likely to cost up to $12.9-billion to complete, a significant increase on the initially planned $8.9-billion.