- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 21, 2014

WESTLAKE, La. (AP) - Site clearance for Sasol’s ethane cracker project in Westlake is underway, as workers begin the task of prepping the land for construction.

Mike Hayes, Sasol’s public affairs manager for U.S. megaprojects, tells the American Press (http://bit.ly/1eOXZNb ) workers from the Westlake-based Civil Construction are in the early stages of spot clearing.

“This is our preconstruction activities, which will consist of the removal of trees and the removal of topsoil that is not suitable for construction,” he said.

Preconstruction activities will also include compacting clay to form a solid foundation on which the cracker will be built, Hayes said. He added that site clearance will most likely continue through the end of the year.

Kim Cusimano, Sasol’s senior public and government affairs specialist, said workers are also doing electrical relocation work along the project’s heavy haul out route, which will begin at the base of the Calcasieu River at the end of Sulphur Avenue and run directly to Houston River Road, terminating at the project site.

“The heavy haul-out is what will be used to transport the modules and heavy equipment that will be delivered via a barge on the Calcasieu River,” Cusimano said, adding that transport along the route will likely begin early next year.

“That is when the significant ramp up will occur as far as construction worker hiring,” she added. “If we make Final Investment Decision by the end of the year, hiring will begin shortly thereafter.”

Sasol has already begun hiring some of its full-time employees, including mechanical engineers, chemical engineers and unit managers. The company has also hired several environmental and safety professionals.

All of the company’s new hires will work on the development of either the cracker or the company’s proposed $21 billion gas-to-liquids plant. Hayes said some may work on both megaprojects.

Sasol’s proposed $7 billion ethane cracker will produce ethylene, which, in turn, will be used to make products such as synthetic fibers, detergents, paints and fragrances. Construction on the facility is expected to begin next spring.

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Information from: American Press, http://www.americanpress.com

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