South African Firm Invests Billions In U.S. Energy Sector

South African Firm Invests Billions In U.S. Energy Sector

In a unique deal, a South African company is doing big business in  the U.S. energy landscape, hoping that its grand plan to introduce a once-shunned technology in the United States will pay off, reports CNN.

Johannesburg-based energy giant Sasol announced late last year that it would spend up to $14 billion on building the first U.S.-based commercial plant to turn natural gas into liquid fuels. At the time this was hailed as one of the biggest investments from a non-U.S. company in American history.

“In that technology we take natural gas and we actually break the molecule down and then reform that molecule into other high-value products like diesel,” says Mike Thomas, Sasol’s vice president of U.S. operations, said of the company’s proprietary technology.

The project is based in Louisiana and includes a separate $5 to $7 billion ethane cracker and derivatives plant. Sasol said it picked the United States because the country has abundant shale gas, released through the controversial drilling process of hydraulic fracturing.

“The price of the natural gas in the United States is about the lowest in the world and the markets are also in the U.S.,” said Thomas. “If you look within the United States, particularly on the U.S. Gulf Coast where we are … there is no better infrastructure for the petrochemical industry in the United States, and probably in the world.”

Sasol already has smaller GTL plants in South Africa and Qatar. The company estimates the Louisiana-based facility will produce at least 96,000 barrels per day, creating 1,200 permanent jobs.