Lotte Chemical, Westlake Chemical Open $3.1B Plant in Lake Charles, Louisiana

LAKE CHARLES, LA. — A joint venture between Lotte Chemical USA (KRX: KRW) and Westlake Chemical Corp. (NYSE: WLK) has opened a new chemical plant in Lake Charles, located in the southwest corner of Louisiana near the Texas border. Development costs for the 250-acre campus were estimated at $3.1 billion.

The chemical plant produces monoethylene glycol — commonly called MEG — an important ingredient in the making of paper, textile fibers, latex paints, asphalt, resins, antifreeze, coolants and adhesives. With an annual capacity of 700,000 metric tons, the new facility is now the largest MEG plant in the world.

South Korea-based Lotte and Houston-Based Westlake expect the plant to generate 250 permanent jobs. According to the Louisiana Economic Development office, approximately 2,000 “indirect jobs” have also been created as a result of this project.

“Among Korean petrochemical companies, Lotte Chemical is the first to locate a project in the United States. As such, this project represents a significant investment by Lotte Chemical,” says Jinkoo Hwang, president and CEO of Lotte Chemical USA. “Today also marks the opening of our new corporate headquarters in Lake Charles, and we are very excited to be part of the industrial growth in the region.”

The plant is Westlake’s seventh project in Louisiana. The Lake Charles area is a hotbed of industry, with petrochemicals being the metro’s largest industry by far. The area is home to dozens of chemical plants and oil refineries, despite the city having fewer than 72,000 residents as of the 2010 census.

Louisiana faced competition from other states for the project. The developers say the final site was chosen due to its inherent advantages such as the existing infrastructure, including access to competitive feedstock resources; pipeline, rail and water shipping access; and a trained workforce,

— Jeff Shaw

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