Sasol assessing the damage caused by explosion at Lake Charles Chemical Project
JOHANNESBURG - Petrochemicals giant Sasol is assessing the impact of last week’s explosion and fire at its controversial $13 billion Lake Charles Chemical Project (LCCP) in Louisiana.
The group said yesterday that the LCCP’s low-density polyethene (LDPE) unit had been shut down and an investigation was underway to determine the cause of the incident, the extent of the damage and the resulting impact on the LDPE unit´s beneficial operation (BO) schedule.
“Sasol has begun an investigation to determine the cause of the incident, the extent of the damage and the resulting impact on the LDPE unit’s beneficial operation schedule,” the company said. “As the investigation has just commenced, it is still early for us to provide an estimate for a start-up date for the LDPE unit.”
Sasol said, however, that all other Lake Charles units and previously commissioned LCCP units - the ethane cracker, ethylene glycol/ethylene oxide and linear low-density polyethene units - were unaffected and operating to plan. It also said there was no impact on the remaining three downstream units under construction of Ziegler alcohols and alumina, alcohol ethoxylates and Guerbet alcohols.
Last week Sasol experienced an explosion and fire. The group said the fire was extinguished and all employees and contractors were safe and accounted for. The market reacted badly to the latest news – despite the group saying that the fire had been extinguished.
Sasol said that the unit was in the final stages of commissioning and start-up when the incident occurred.
The Johannesburg headquartered company which operates in 32 countries has had a tough time with the Lake Charles Project in the US, with cost overruns and completion delays.
In October, then Sasol joint chief executives 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 (R185.3bn) to complete, a significant increase on the initially planned $8.9bn. Sasol announced Fleetwood Grobler as its incoming chief executive and withheld short term bonuses for executives involved in the LCCP.
Sasol said progress was still ongoing on the remaining three downstream units under construction to complete the integrated project.
The company’s review of the LCCP which considered the root causes of the delay and cost overruns of the project found that the primary responsibility for shortcomings lay with the former leader of the Project Management Team.