South Africa-based chemical and energy company Sasol has announced plans to establish an integrated gas-to-liquids and ethane cracker complex in Louisiana, US. The investment is expected to create more than 1250 direct jobs – with an average annual salary of $88,000 – and an estimated 5800 indirect jobs. According to a study prepared by Louisiana State University, the complex will contribute $46.2bn to the local economy over the next 20 years.

Sasol’s investment in the energy complex is estimated at between $16bn and $21bn, and according to Louisiana's governor Bobby Jindall: “Will be the largest single manufacturing investment in the history of Louisiana and one of the largest FDI manufacturing projects in the history of the US.” Mr Jindall said that Sasol’s venture in Louisiana can be seen as a “giant step forward” in the country's bid for energy independence.

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The operation will be located in Lake Charles, a town in the south-western part of the state. Louisiana Economic Development (LED), a state investment promotion and facilitation agency, played an instrumental role in the site selection process. Sesol will receive further help from the state, benefiting from LED’s workforce training programme FastStart and a new $20m workforce training facility being established in Lake Charles. The company will also receive a $115m grant to purchase the land and cover part of the infrastructure costs connected with the new site, and will be eligible for the state's Industrial Tax Exemption Programme.

According to Mr Jindall, apart from the incentives, the state's workforce and energy infrastructure were among the most important factors behind Sasol’s decision to establish the complex in Louisiana. Data from greenfield investment monitor fDi Markets shows that an increasing number of foreign companies are choosing to base new manufacturing ventures in Louisiana. The number of manufacturing projects in the state increased by 112% between 2008 and 2009, and has increased by 13% on average each year since.