Petrochemicals giant Sasol has confirmed that its 140 MW gas-fired plant under development in Sasolburg would be commissioned in the first half of 2013.
In an update on its R14-billion worth of investments at its Sasolburg operations, the JSE-listed company said that the R1.8-billion gas-fired plant would replace coal-fired power generation, helping the group to reduce its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from Sasolburg by a further one-million tons a year.
Construction started in July 2011. Sasol concluded an agreement with Finnish company Wärtsilä South Africa to operate and maintain the plant for three years.
The company is also investing R8.4-billion in its wax expansion project in Sasolburg, which entails the construction of a wax production facility. The second phase is currently under way.
Some of the plants in the first phase have been commissioned. Once Phase 2 is complete, Sasol would have doubled its current hard wax production capacity in South Africa.
Meanwhile, the company reported that the construction of its R1.9-billion ethylene purification plant, driven by good local demand for polyethylene material, would provide an additional 48 000 t of additional ethylene capacity a year, allowing better use of the existing downstream polyethylene plants. The plant is expected to start up in the 2013 financial year.
Meanwhile, Sasol continues to engage with the National Treasury and the Department of Energy on cost recovery mechanisms and specifications to be prepared and published by the South African Bureau of Standards. This would impact on the group's crude oil refining joint venture, Natref, in Sasolburg, necessitating substantial investment to comply with the specification regulations.
Natref produces mostly petrol, diesel, jet fuel, paraffin, light petroleum gas and various grades of bitumen with a limited amount of by-products, such as liquid sulphur, liquefied CO2, sodium hydrogen sulphide and ammonium sulphide.
The company said that the expansion projects were creating much-needed employment opportunities in the Sasolburg area.
“However, as the projects are progressing, the need for scarce skills is growing. The biggest requirement is still for highly specialised welders,” it said in a statement.
Recruitment and appointment of highly specialised welders were being done by contractors in accordance with Sasol's Out of Country Nationals Policy, in conjunction with Sasol and the Department of Labour. “Apart from coded welders, there is also a shortage of experienced and well-trained scaffold builders, and to a lesser extent boilermakers and fitters,” Sasol concluded.