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African Company to Study Building Refinery in U.S.

Wed, 09/14/2011 - 5:08am
the Associated Press

WESTLAKE, Louisiana (AP) — A South African energy company has picked a site in southwest Louisiana as a possible location for building a multibillion-dollar plant that converts natural gas to diesel and other products, the company announced Tuesday.

Johannesburg-based Sasol Ltd. said it will study the feasibility of building a "gas-to-liquids complex" in Calcasieu Parish. Sasol said the plant would be the first in the country to employ the technology, which converts gas into liquid fuels.

Gov. Bobby Jindal said the project could involve a capital investment of up to $10 billion and could generate roughly 850 permanent jobs, which would make it "one of the largest industrial projects in Louisiana history."

Ernst Oberholster, a Sasol managing director, said the company picked Calcasieu Parish over locations in other U.S. states that he wouldn't identify.

A subsidiary of Sasol already operates a Westlake chemical facility that employs 400 workers.

Oberholster said the company will conduct an 18-month feasibility study that weighs the regulatory process, "supply issues," capital costs and other factors before it decides whether to build the plant.

"It's not a foregone conclusion," he said. "We've only done a pre-feasibility study, but I'm very excited about the possibilities."

 

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