Fluor gets Sasol ethane cracker contract

Texas-based Fluor Corp. has won a $120 million front-end engineering and design contract for Sasol’s ethane cracker and associated chemicals facility at the South African company’s Lake Charles Chemical Complex.

The ethane cracker breaks natural gas into smaller molecules to make ethylene, which is used in making plastic.

Sasol plans to spend between $16 billion and $21 billion on the ethane cracker and a facility that will convert natural gas to diesel.

The plant is expected to create more than 1,250 direct jobs with an average annual salary of nearly $88,000, plus benefits.

The Sasol plant will create about 7,000 construction jobs, according to estimates from the Louisiana Economic Development department.

The facility is expected to begin operating in 2017.

The Fluor announcement is the latest for the facility.

In April, Sasol said it had ordered the main ethylene compressors, a critical component of its facility from MHI Compressor International Corp.

The compressors are the largest made by MHI’s parent company, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Compressor Corp. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Compressor Corp.’s website says these types of compressors form “the heart of a petrochemical plant.”

Placing the order now ensures Sasol’s equipment will be made before the market for the compressors heats up, Johan du Preez, Sasol executive vice president: US Mega Projects, had said. MHI is one of the few companies that can make the compressors.