Sasol's Lake Charles Plant Remains Shut Following Hurricane Laura

Reuters, August 31, 2020

South African petrochemicals group Sasol said on Monday that its Lake Charles Chemical facility in the U.S. state of Louisiana remained shut after Hurricane Laura made landfall last week.

The world’s top manufacturer of motor fuel from coal, said manufacturing facilities in Lake Charles shut down with high voltage transmission line corridors into the area damaged. Sasol had temporarily shut down facilities at Lake Charles in Louisiana and Greens Bayou and Winnie in Texas in preparation for the hurricane.

The massive storm hit Louisiana early last Thursday with 150 mile-per-hour (240 kph) winds, damaging buildings, knocking down trees and cutting power supplies.

Sasol did not indicate how much production would be impacted but said it was engaging with its customers and suppliers and would update the market when it had more certainty.

The company said a damage assessment was being conducted at Lake Charles with early reports indicating no damage to process equipment and no flood damage despite damage to its cooling towers from the high wind speeds.

Manufacturing operations in Greens Bayou and Winnie in Texas were not affected by the storm, it said.

Start-up of the plants will depend on the availability of electricity, industrial gases, other feedstocks and the restoration process,” Sasol said in a statement.

The company, which is in talks for a potential partner at its U.S. Base Chemicals plant, said it did not envisage any impact on the potential transaction.

Investors have been concerned by the company’s debt, largely due to delays and cost overruns at the Louisiana plant, including from heavy rainfall in 2017 due to Tropical Storm Harvey.

The Lake Charles Chemical Complex has seven manufacturing units and produces products used in the manufacture of soaps, detergents and cosmetics as well as speciality chemicals used in thickeners and pharmaceuticals.

(Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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