Area Development
Leading energy and chemical company Sasol has announced it has chosen Calcasieu Parish in southwest Louisiana as the location for a potential $8 to $10 billion refinery complex. The gas-to-liquids (or GTL) project would be one of the largest industrial projects in the state's history, and the first of its kind built in America. It's expected to directly employ 850 workers (average salary: $89,000, not including benefits) and create nearly 4,000 indirect jobs.

Based in South Africa, Sasol provides liquid fuels to customers worldwide. Its production sites are in the U.S., Germany, Italy, Slovakia, Dubai, South Africa and China.

The proposed GTL complex would convert natural gas into synthetic gas, and then convert the synthetic gas into premium diesel fuel and related products.

In the near future Sasol plans to begin a design-and-engineering phase for the proposed facility after it completes an extensive feasibility study. If all goes well, construction of the complex is expected to start in 2013, and its two phases would be completed by 2018. Once operational, it would process about 4 million tons of products per year, with a maximum capacity of 96,000 barrels per day.

In addition, Sasol's new GTL complex would represent a huge new source of demand for natural gas in the state. Gov. Jindal said that "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."

LSU's new economic impact study (commissioned by Sasol) reveals that the complex's construction alone will generate another $1.73 billion in additional business activity, and over 12,000 new jobs associated with $577 million in personal earnings during the five-year construction period. Once fully operational, the facility would lead to more economic activity in the state to the tune of nearly $919 million a year.

"Louisiana has proven to be a place where research and next-generation technologies can thrive and grow," said Sasol spokesman Ernst Oberholster. "We believe Sasol's GTL technology can help unlock the potential of Louisiana's abundant natural gas resources and contribute to an affordable, reliable fuel supply for the United States."