Sasol Lake Charles in America. Photo Supplied

INTERNATIONAL - Sasol said workers began returning to its $11bn (R142.21bn) Lake Charles Chemicals Project in Louisiana after the site was shut for more than a week because of Hurricane Harvey.

Construction workers came back “albeit at lower-than-usual turnout levels” following the closure on August 26, Russell Johnson, a spokesperson for Sasol’s North American operations, said on Tuesday. “The site could not be accessed for safe work for seven work days,” he said.

Sasol last year raised the projected cost of Lake Charles by 25percent to $11bn, citing problems, including weather delays, at a site with “poorer-than-anticipated subsurface conditions”. The company has also lowered estimated returns from the plant, which will convert ethane into plastics and other products.

Harvey, which made landfall near Corpus Christi, Texas, resulted in the closure of the region’s petrochemical operations. Central to the weather delays cited by the company was a 50percent increase in rainy days from the 10year average, according to an investor fact sheet from August last year.

Rainfall from Harvey has set a record for the continental US, according to the National Weather Service.