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The Sasol complex will include six chemical manufacturing plants

A South African firmís decision last month to build an $8.1 billion plant in Louisiana that will triple its chemical production capacity in the U.S. underscores widespread growth in U.S. chemicals manufacturing and in supporting logistics and transportation services.

Sasol on Oct. 27 made a final decision to build an ethane cracker and derivatives complex in Lake Charles, Louisiana, not far from the petrochemical powerhouse called Houston. The Sasol complex, which will include six chemical manufacturing plants, will convert the regionís abundant natural gas, in the form of ethane, into plastics and other chemical products.

When itís up and running in 2018, the complex will produce 1.5 million tons of ethylene ó a colorless gas used to make polyethylene, the most widely used plastic ó a year.

ďThe U.S. Gulf Coastís robust infrastructure for transporting and storing abundant, low-cost ethane was a key driver in our decision to invest in America,Ē said David Constable, president and CEO of Johannesburg-based Sasol, an $18 billion fuel and chemicals maker.

From the U.S. Gulf Coast to the West Coast and the Northeast, chemicals production is rising, spurred by low energy costs and higher manufacturing activity. The output of chemicals was up in all regions of the U.S. in September, rising 2.4 percent on average nationwide.

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