French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault today inaugurated the new gas treatment unit for the Lacq Cluster Chimie 2030 project, at a ceremony attended by Yves-Louis Darricarrère, President, Upstream and member of the Executive Committee at Total; Thierry Le Hénaff, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Arkema; Jacques Seguin, Chairman of Sobegi; David Habib, Member of the French National Assembly, Mayor of Mourenx and Chairman of the Lacq Urban Community; and many regional elected officials and stakeholders.
The new gas treatment unit is the cornerstone of the industrial redeployment of the Lacq site in response to the depletion of the natural gas field.
With the support of the French government and local communities, Total, Sobegi and Arkema have invested more than €154 million in Lacq Cluster Chimie 2030, a project to transform the Lacq platform into a center of manufacturing excellence.
“The start-up of Lacq Cluster Chimie 2030 is vital to ensuring the future of the Lacq manufacturing platform and reflects our work over the last 20 or more years to plan ahead for the day when commercial gas production from Lacq is halted,” commented Yves-Louis Darricarrère, President, Upstream and member of the Executive Committee at Total. “Regional stakeholders joined forces to champion and support this model industrial reconversion project, which will sustain economic activity and protect employment in the Lacq Basin.”
“Arkema’s substantial investment in the project demonstrates our enduring commitment to the Lacq Basin. It cements our presence on the platform and will stimulate the global growth of applications for our sulfur derivatives in refining, gas and petrochemicals,” stated Thierry Le Hénaff, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Arkema. “The reconversion project was made possible by pooling the unmatched competencies of Total, SOBEGI and Arkema.”
The new gas treatment unit will produce at low flow the gas remaining in the Lacq field for another 30 years, supporting local industry for the long term. The project is designed to supply manufacturers on the platform with cost-competitive power, steam and sulfur feedstock daily.
In addition, it consolidates the competitiveness of the Lacq platform and makes it even more attractive to new investors, such as Japan’s Toray. The worldwide leader in carbon fiber manufacturing is undertaking a major capital project on the site. In addition, Total Développement Régional, whose role is to encourage projects to create, acquire and grow start-ups in Total’s host regions in France, also works to draw new businesses to the platform. This Group organization was originally set up in Lacq in 1978 and has supported 100 companies in the basin over the last 30 years.
The Lacq Gas Field, a Flagship for French Industry
A major gas field was discovered in Lacq, southwestern France, in 1951. Following first gas in 1957, the Lacq field reached peak production in 1970 with a capacity of 33 million cubic meters per day, meeting one-third of French demand. In a few short years, the surrounding Béarn farmland became the “Lacq Basin” an industrial hub that generated thousands of jobs.
For six decades, new industries, such as fine chemicals, bioenergy and carbon fiber, emerged and grew in Lacq, creating permanent jobs. Today, the basin counts around 8,000 jobs — as many as in its heyday in the 1970s — even though only 3% of its reserves remain.