Contractors have broken ground on a $3 billion chemical plant complex in Southwest Louisiana. The project is a joint venture between Lotte Chemical Corp. of South Korea and Axiall Corp. of Georgia, and will include the construction of a $1.9 billion ethane cracker complex and a $1.1 billion monoethylene glycol plant. Both will be constructed on 250 acres of property near Axiall's Lake Charles chloralkali chemical plant.

Chip Swearngan, head of corporate communications and public relations for Axiall Corp., says contractors have recently completed site preparation of clearing trees and bringing in limestone. They also constructed a heavy equipment road and prepared the site to receive barges which will transport equipment from Lake Charles.

"The site is ready and it's my understanding that pile driving and other types of activities will commence this month," says Swearngan. "The next stage will include the start of construction on the ethane cracker."

CB&I will handle a $1.3 billion contract to provide engineering, procurement, fabrication and construction for the ethane cracker using its proprietary technology. CB&I also has separate contracts to provide construction planning and reviews, early works services and construction services for the proposed MEG unit. LACC, the joint venture, will use other firms to execute ancillary offsite facilities developments and tie-ins to existing infrastructure.

When completed, Lott plans to produce 700,000 tons annually for export to customers abroad, making the MEG plant the largest of its kind in the United States. The ethane cracker is designed with an annual capacity of 1 million tons between both companies.

Axiall estimates the project will create 2,000 construction jobs during the peak of building activity in the next couple of years. Both of the plants are expected to be completed and commence operations in 2019.