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Sasol Delays Decision on Louisiana GTL Complex, Blames Oil Prices

Sasol Ltd. is taking a pause on a final investment decision of its massive natural gas-to-liquids (GTL) complex planned for Westlake, LA "to conserve cash in response to low international oil prices."

The $16-21 billion proposal has been in the works for more than two years (see Daily GPIDec. 4, 2012). The plant as designed would produce up to 96,000 b/d, making the facility  the second largest of its kind after Royal Dutch Shell plc's Pearl plant in Qatar.

"Albeit at a much slower pace, we will continue to progress the U.S. GTL facility," CEO David Constable said. "This will allow us to evaluate the possibility of phasing in the project in the most pragmatic and effective manner. North America and our home base in Southern Africa remain strategic investment destinations for Sasol."

The timing of the final decision about whether or not to move forward would "take into consideration progress made with the execution of the company's world-scale ethane cracker and derivatives complex, prevailing market conditions and other strategic investment opportunities."

The South African chemical giant is proceeding with the ethane cracker and derivatives expansion in Louisiana. The $8.1 billion complex, set to be built in Lake Charles, was given the green light by Sasol in October, one month after a wetlands permit was approved by federal officials (see Daily GPIOct. 27, 2014Sept. 5, 2014). Once commissioned, as expected in 2018, the complex would triple Sasol's chemical production capacity in the United States.

"Given the robust project economics, the Sasol team is confident that this facility is the first step in developing the site near Lake Charles into an integrated multi-asset, multi-business hub, which will enable future growth for several decades to come," Constable said.

Only the GTL complex has been delayed at this point. Sasol said it would continue to advance investments in South Africa, including a mine replacement program and various gas and chemicals projects. An update on future plans is scheduled in early March.

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