Five Baton Rouge contractors hold more than $1 billion in contracts for construction of Sasol’s $8.1 billion ethane cracker and derivatives project near Lake Charles, officials said Monday.

Both Cajun Constructors and James Industrial Constructors will perform site work. Those efforts include some of the first activity at the South African company’s future plant and consist of site preparation, piling and foundation work.

ISC Constructors LLC and MMR Constructors Inc. will perform electrical and instrumentation work.

Turner Industries will conduct mechanical, structural steel and piping work.

“With the announcement of our final investment decision, Sasol is excited to advance construction at our ethane cracker and derivatives project site,” said Mike Thomas, senior vice president of U.S. operations for Sasol. “These contractors bring extensive Louisiana and petrochemical construction experience, and these appointments reflect our commitment to using Louisiana businesses on the project.”

The ethane cracker will process natural gas into ethylene for chemicals used in detergents, lotions, cleaners, packaging, paints, adhesives and other products. About 500 plant workers will average annual salaries of more than $80,000.

Numerous hiring, subcontract and procurement opportunities will be available directly from Sasol’s contractors. Sasol will host a business opportunity forum from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Lake Charles Civic Center for representatives of those contractors to meet with the southwest Louisiana business community and share information about available business opportunities.

“We encourage local businesses interested in working on the projects to attend this forum and learn about anticipated timelines, application processes and business needs,” Thomas said.

Selection of the Baton Rouge construction contractors follows the appointment of Fluor Technip Integrated, a joint venture of two firms, as the primary engineering, procurement and construction management contractor. The construction contractors will be managed by FTI on Sasol’s behalf.

Additional construction contractors will be announced as the project progresses.

Sasol originally planned to build a $14 billion gas-to-liquids fuel refinery adjacent to the ethane cracker near Westlake in Calcasieu Parish.

The recent drop of more than 50 percent in the price of oil, however, caused Sasol officials to announce a delay of undetermined length on that gas-to-liquids project.

If Sasol decides at a future date to build the gas-to-liquids fuel refinery, the combined $22 billion cost of the Westlake projects would make it the most expensive industrial complex in Louisiana history.

The gas-to-liquids fuel refinery was expected to create 750 permanent jobs that carried average annual pay of $88,000.

In 2012, Sasol’s plan for the gas-to-liquids plant was based on an oil price of about $100 a barrel and natural gas prices of about $2 per thousand cubic feet.