$21 million Texas rail infrastructure project; Sasol’s nearly complete in Lake Charles; BASF expands 3D printing business

Our pick of the latest petrochemicals news you need to know

Port Freeport is launching a $21 million project to improve supply chain efficiency in Texas.

$21 million rail infrastructure project launched in Texas

James Construction began construction on the first phase of the Parcel 14 Rail Development project at Port Freeport in Texas. The rail infrastructure is expected to be fully operational by July 2018.

Part of the port's long-term strategy, the $21 million rail project is designed to enhance land-side accessibility and supply chain efficiency for the U.S. Gulf petrochemical industry.

Parcel 14 is a 250-acre site near the Brazos River Diversion Canal. The site will be developed into a multimodal industrial park offering warehouse facilities for plastic resins packaging, cross-docking activities and distribution centers, the company said in a press release.

Union Pacific Railroad will offer manifest train service at the site.

“In addition to adding rail capacity to Port Freeport’s infrastructure portfolio, the new rail facility will enhance our partnerships with area industry, and will be the first step in future connections to the Texas International Trade Corridor," said Port Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Phyllis Saathoff.

Sasol’s Lake Charles Chemicals Complex nearly complete

Sasol’s Lake Charles Chemicals Complex in Louisiana is nearly 75% complete, the South Africa-based producer said in a call with reporters this week.

Sasol is planning a phased start-up beginning in mid- 2018 for the Complex, which includes a 1.5 million tonne/year ethane cracker and six downstream chemical facilities.

The company said it expects to remain within its previously revised $11 billion budget. When the financial investment decision (FID) was announced in 2014, estimated costs were $8.1 billion, but the company changed those numbers in 2016.

BASF expands 3D printing business

BASF acquired 100% of Netherlands-based filament producer Innofil3D BV, part of an attempt to push into the business of 3D printing materials. A purchase price was not disclosed.

Innofil3D specializes in customized filaments used in some 3D printing.

BASF recently established a new company to focus on 3D printing. The subsidiary, BASF 3D Printing Solutions GmbH, will focus on additive manufacturing materials, system solutions, components and services in the field of 3D printing. The subsidiary opens for business in September.

Mexico’s shale-rich Burgos Basin opens to private investment

Mexico’s national energy ministry opened the onshore portion of the Burgos Basin, a shale-rich basin in northeastern Mexico, for natural gas exploration and development by private companies, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said.

This is the first time non-state entities have been offered access to the Burgos Basin for development since the creation of the national oil company Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) in 1938.

PEMEX initiated exploration activities in the Burgos Basin in 1942 and it has discovered some 227 fields. 

Source: U.S. EIA

Many reservoirs in the Burgos Basin have low permeability and high decline rates typical for tight formations, which require significant investment from PEMEX to maintain or increase production.

Production from the Burgos Basin accounted for 15% of total natural gas production in Mexico in 2016, and the basin holds the largest undeveloped shale resources in the country.

The Mexican government is planning to open more acreage in Burgos and other shale basins to private companies before the end of 2018.