The future of energy is being written in Southwest Louisiana, where some of the world’s most innovative companies are helping to meet the energy and petrochemical needs of today and develop the fuel sources of tomorrow.
The region’s strategic location provides ready access to rich oil and natural gas deposits, a highly skilled workforce and proximity to the Gulf of Mexico via the Port of Lake Charles.
Energy innovation is thriving in Southwest Louisiana. Several massive liquefied natural gas facilities are in the works or have come online, including the $20-billion Cheniere LNG facility in Cameron Parish, which began exporting liquefied natural gas to markets around the world. In February 2016, Cheniere announced the first commissioning cargo with liquefied natural gas produced from the first liquefaction train of its Sabine Pass liquefaction project was loaded onto an LNG carrier bound for Brazil.
“This historic event opens a new chapter for the country in energy trade and is a significant milestone for Cheniere as we prepare Train 1 for commercial operations,” Neal Shear, chairman and interim CEO of Cheniere Partners noted at the time.
The LNG liquefaction facility is sited next to the 1,000-acre Cheniere LNG terminal. The terminal, which is only 3.7 nautical miles from the open water and 23 nautical miles from the outer buoy and not subject to tidal flows, can simultaneously load or unload LNG vessels from each berth to maximize the number of LNG vessels that can be received at the terminal each year.
Focus on Investment
Drawn by access to raw materials and transportation, petrochemical companies are investing in their Southwest Louisiana operations.
South Africa-based Sasol Ltd.’s existing Lake Charles Chemical Complex at Westlake in Calcasieu Parish has seven manufacturing units situated on approximately 400 acres, making products used in the cleaning and personal care markets and also supplying specialty chemicals used in mild abrasives, thickeners and pharmaceuticals, and the enhanced oil recovery market.
Sasol is building an ethane cracker and derivatives complex, which will cost up to $11 billion, adjacent to its existing site. The new facility, expected to enter beneficial operation in 2018 and 2019, includes an ethane cracker designed to produce 1.5 million tons of ethylene per year and six derivative units that will make specialty chemicals used in clothing, household products, automotive equipment and personal care items. The project
is expected to create about 500 new, full-time jobs, and it has already hired more than 350 of those positions.
Sasol is also proposing to build a gas-to-liquids facility in Westlake. A final investment decision on that project has not yet been announced. The proposed gas-to-liquids facility would convert natural gas into diesel fuel and other liquids, producing 96,000 barrels every day. The company says it would be the first gas-to-liquids plant in the U.S.
The company’s investments will roughly triple its chemical production capacity in the U.S.
Legacy of Innovation
Some of the world’s largest energy companies have created a vibrant energy and petrochemical sector. CITGO’s Lake Charles refinery is the sixth-largest in the U.S. and Phillips 66 operates a major refinery in Westlake, where it is a top producer of ethylene, styrene and polyethylene.
The Citgo refinery, which dates to 1944, is located on 2,000 acres along the banks of the Calcasieu Ship Channel. The complex is recognized as the largest of the three CITGO refineries, consisting of a modern, deep-conversion facility with a crude oil refining capacity of 425,000 barrels per day. The facility employs approximately 1,100 workers in Southwest Louisiana, and on average more than 850 contractors. Also, the state has approximately 100 independently owned CITGO retail stations that provide employment to approximately 600 people.
“CITGO Lake Charles is a focal point for the refining industry in Southwest Louisiana,” says Tomeu Vadell, CITGO Lake Charles vice president and general manager. ”Our waterways and pipeline network provide critical infrastructure for transportation of fuels and products. CITGO was one of the first refineries to develop in the area during World War II and today remains one of
the leading employers and manufacturers of refined products in Southwest Louisiana. In the era of modern technology and expansions, and as our region grows and develops – we’ve been here, we are here and we’ll be here.”