Photo Courtesy of Sasol
Ethane Cracker site requires installation of concrete piles.

Construction is underway on an $8.1-billion ethane cracking plant after its owner, Sasol Ltd., in January delayed a decision to invest in a neighboring project estimated to cost up to $14 billion. Crews for three construction contractors are now performing site preparation, piling and foundation work on the Westlake, La., site while four other contractors have been awarded contracts for later mobilization.

Cajun Constructors Inc., Civil Construction Co. and James Industrial Constructors began work last fall under separate contracts with similar scopes. Cajun, for example, is busy on a $290-million, 36-month, time-and-materials contract to install everything from anchor bolts down, says Joey Goscha, project manager. Cajun's scope includes driving 9,000 concrete piles, 2,000 auger cap piles and 10,000 linear ft of sheetpiling and placing 33,000 cu yd of concrete.

A 50-50 joint venture called Fluor Technip Integrated is Sasol's engineering, procurement and construction manager on the 1.5-million-ton-per-year cracker. ISC Constructors LLC and MMR Constructors Inc. will perform electrical and instrumentation. Turner Industries and Performance Contractors Inc. will work on mechanical, structural steel and piping.

In January, the South African company delayed a final investment decision on the gas-to-liquids plant on an adjacent site because the collapse of oil prices reduced its cost justification. The ethylene produced in the cracker will be used in six downstream plants on site to produce a range of high-value derivatives.