Sasol Project Achieves Safety and Construction Milestones

From achieving first mega lifts to 15 million work hours without a lost-time incident, the project is going strong.
Tuesday, February 28, 2017 4:20 pm EST

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The Sasol ethane cracker and derivatives project in Southwest Louisiana made significant advancements in 2016, with all of the work underpinned by an unwavering focus on safety.

Fluor, in a joint venture with TechnipFMC, is serving as the project’s primary engineering, procurement and construction management contractor, which encompasses an ethane cracker, six derivatives units and utilities and offsites. Valued at $11 billion, the project will roughly triple Sasol’s chemical production capacity in the United States.

In January 2016, the team commenced heavy haul transports, transporting a 930-ton boiler approximately 2.5 miles from the project’s construction dock to the project site and placing it on its permanent foundation. Since then, the project has completed more than 270 heavy haul transports from the construction dock to the project site, with nearly 500 total expected throughout the life of the project.

Mega lifts began in August 2016, as the team lifted a 595-ton polymerization reactor into place for the linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) unit. LLDPE is used in such products as films, plastic bags and food packaging. With a diameter of 30.5 feet and a height of 144 feet, the reactor is the size of a 14‑story building. Thirty-six mega lifts are planned through the life of the project and 13 have been safely performed to date.

Ethane Cracker ModuleIn December 2016, the first of the 78 modules for the 1.5-million-ton-per-year ethane cracker were delivered to the project site. The ethane cracker creates ethylene, one of the key building blocks of the petrochemical industry.

As the project enters 2017, the project has passed the 55 percent completion point. Site civil work is nearly complete, and mechanical, instrumentation and electrical work is ramping up.

With more than 5,000 construction workers currently onsite, a strong safety program has been critical to achieving these milestones. Weekly meetings with all of the contractors onsite help ensure buy-in.

This collaborative effort has enabled the project to achieve these construction milestones while achieving its most important goal, safety, as the project has worked 15 million hours without a lost-time incident as of January 2017.

“We are building one of the largest and most complex projects on the continent,” said Phil Clark, senior vice president and project director for Fluor. “I am very proud of this safety milestone achievement, which reflects the hard work and commitment to safety by our client, staff, contractors and the thousands of craft personnel working on the project. Our great safety culture, where everyone is looking after each other and where each day is a fresh start, is a great foundation to this ongoing success.”

“In this industry, 15 million man hours is an outstanding achievement that I am very proud of,” says Mario Tommaselli, executive project director for TechnipFMC. “Doing the right thing is fundamental to achieving Health, Safety, Environment (HSE) and Quality excellence. We have created a culture that makes safety a personal commitment to everyone on the project. I want to personally thank all of the women and men that have participated in this achievement for their work and commitment to the Sasol ethane cracker and derivatives project. It’s because of their efforts, that this project has achieved such an outstanding milestone.”

The project is expected to begin a phased commissioning of the seven manufacturing units in 2018. 

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