Explosion at Sasol US chemical plant

Sasol has reported an explosion which resulted in a fire at its controversial US chemicals plant.

The petrochemicals giant said in a statement the incident took place on Monday at the Lake Charles Chemicals Project in Louisiana, in a unit which will produce low-density polyethylene.

The controversial plant has been marred by cost overruns that cost Sasol's joint CEOs Bongani Nqwababa and Stephen Cornell their jobs last year.

"The unit has been shut down and an investigation is underway to determine the cause of the incident," the company said, adding that the unit was in the final stages of commissioning and startup when the incident occurred.

Sasol said other Lake Charles units were unaffected by the explosion and were operating as normal.

The company revealed last year that the project, which will have seven production units that deliver various chemicals, including a plastics variant called polyethylene, will cost between $12.6bn and  $12.9bn – almost double the original budgeted amount.

The cost escalation was blamed on poor project management and forced the resignation of Nqwababa and Cornell in October. However, the company did not find them guilty of any wrongdoing in the matter.

An independent investigation into the Lake Charles Chemicals Project found inappropriate conduct and incompetence in its project management team.

It also found "an improper tone at the top of the LCCP", and that managers didn't provide accurate cost and schedule estimations to Nqwababa and Cornell.

ZAR/USD
16.97
(+0.36)
ZAR/GBP
21.20
(+0.22)
ZAR/EUR
19.19
(-0.20)
ZAR/AUD
11.84
(-0.04)
ZAR/JPY
0.16
(+0.14)
Gold
1784.58
(+0.54)
Silver
18.27
(+1.50)
Platinum
821.00
(+1.54)
Brent Crude
42.85
(0.00)
Palladium
1931.00
(+1.04)
All Share
54846.28
(+0.60)
Top 40
50503.91
(+0.65)
Financial 15
10134.53
(-0.15)
Industrial 25
76434.98
(-0.16)
Resource 10
51142.00
(+2.00)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo
Company Snapshot
Voting Booth
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
I'm not really directly affected
18% - 1651 votes
I am taking a hit, but should be able to recover in the next year
23% - 2173 votes
My finances have been devastated
34% - 3223 votes
It's still too early to know what the full effect will be
25% - 2346 votes
Vote