Hurricane Laura made landfall on 27 August 2020 near Sasol’s Lake Charles Chemical Complex in Southwest Louisiana, and is one of the strongest hurricanes on record to hit the United States. Significant property and utility infrastructure damage has been experienced across the region.
Sasol’s more than 800 Lake Charles employees are safe; however, hundreds of employees have suffered significant damage to their homes and remain in temporary housing while utility restoration and repair work is in progress.
Sasol is assisting employees with home preservation, essential supplies and financial aid. In addition Sasol is supporting the local authorities, utility partners and citizen groups in community and infrastructure recovery efforts.
Sasol has completed damage assessments of the complex’s 14 manufacturing facilities and associated utilities and infrastructure. While there was moderate wind damage to cooling towers and some insulation and building damage, there is no apparent damage to major process equipment, utilities or infrastructure. This will need to be confirmed once site electrical power is completely restored and all systems are tested.
Removal of debris, repair work and startup planning continue on the site. Regular employee work shifts have resumed, and several hundred contractors are working on site to expedite readiness for startup.
The critical path for operational restart is the re-establishment of reliable external electrical power service from Entergy, the regional power provider. The Sasol Lake Charles site is currently partially energized. Entergy expects full load service, industrial-level reliability power, to be available to Sasol and other industrial customers in the area by early-to-mid October.
Some site utility systems are currently online, with startup of the remaining utilities planned before reliable power is enabled. Once Entergy declares reliable, full load power is restored, Sasol will activate a coordinated startup of the site’s two ethane crackers, and derivative units.
The low-density polyethylene unit, the last of the Lake Charles Chemicals Project units to come online, did not experience any significant storm impacts and commissioning activities have resumed. The unit’s beneficial operation sequence will be initiated once the site is fully energized.
Sasol has Atlantic Named Wind Storm (ANWS) insurance coverage for units under construction as well as operating units.
Sasol’s progress toward securing a partner in its U.S. Base Chemicals business is far advanced, and was not impacted by Hurricane Laura.