Sasol, an energy and chemicals company based in South Africa, announced on Dec. 4 that it will build an integrated GTL and ethane cracker complex in Westlake, Louisiana.

"This project will be the largest single manufacturing investment in the history of Louisiana and it also represents one of the largest foreign direct investment manufacturing projects in the history of the entire United States," said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

The complex will create 1,253 direct jobs resulting in an additional 5,886 new, indirect jobs, for a total of more than 7,000 direct and indirect jobs. Sasol also will retain 435 existing direct jobs in Westlake as a result of the project.

The project will consist of an integrated, 96,000 barrels-per-day (bb/d) GTL facility representing a capital investment of between $11 billion and $14 billion, as well as an ethane cracker representing a capital investment of $5 billion to $7 billion.

The GTL facility, the first of its kind in the U.S., will produce transportation fuels, including GTL diesel, as well as other value-adding chemical products. GTL diesel is a cleaner-burning, high-performance fuel with significant emission reduction benefits. GTL diesel can be used in existing vehicles and fuel delivery infrastructure without modifications.

"Never before in our nation's history has there been a greater call for energy independence, but that independence will only result from a meaningful application of innovative and practical solutions for new sources of energy," said Jindal. "This project is a giant step forward to help our country become more energy independent and less reliant on foreign sources of energy."

Including direct and indirect effects, the Sasol project will produce a total economic impact over the next 20 years of $46.2 billion, according to an economic impact study commissioned by LED and completed by the LSU Division of Economic Development. The project is also expected to create roughly 7,000 construction jobs.

The GTL project will be delivered in a phased approach, with phase one delivering the first 48,000 bb/d and phase two delivering the remaining production capacity. The ethane cracker will produce 1.5 million tons per annum of ethylene, one of the chemical industry's key buildings blocks for alcohol- and plastics-based products, including solvents, surfactants and polymers.

"These projects will unlock the potential of the continent's abundant natural gas resources," Sasol Ltd. CEO David Constable said. "By incorporating GTL technology into the USA's energy mix, states such as Louisiana will be able to advance the country's energy independence, through a diversification of supply."

For the past three years, Louisiana has actively cultivated GTL projects with Sasol and other leading energy companies around the world. In early 2011, LED's Business Expansion and Retention Group, or BERG, joined the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance and the Port of Lake Charles to identify potential sites in Southwest Louisiana using GIS mapping technology.