060716 Sasol Lake Charles _lowres

Location of the Sasol plant under construction in Lake Charles.

South Africa-based energy and chemical business Sasol Ltd. said Monday its ethylene oxide production plant in Lake Charles has achieved "beneficial" operations.

The term means the unit sustained production at set specifications for at least 72 hours. 

At the end of May, Sasol said its separate ethylene glycol plant inside the Lake Charles complex achieved that milestone.

There are plans for seven chemical production facilities in Lake Charles; the ethylene oxide and ethylene gycol production lines are the first two. The company plans to open the five other manufacturing production lines by early 2020. It sees the Lake Charles chemical plant as a step toward more integrated manufacturing, which spans from ethane to ethylene and even alcohols in addition to surfactants that are commonly used in cleaning supplies. Ethylene glycols are often used in clothing, such as in polyester fiber but also as a raw material in antifreeze and coolants for automobiles. 

Sasol's ethylene oxide plant is expected to produce 300,000 tons per year.

Sasol last month projected the total cost of its chemical project at Lake Charles at $12.9 billion, which is up from an estimated $11.6 billion to $11.8 billion in February and up from $10.9 billion estimated at the end of December. The original estimate in 2014 before the project started was $8.9 billion.

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