Mar 28, 2008
Sasol weighs up more power generation schemes, but says it must prioritise fuel securityBack
Construction|Engineering|Gauteng|Natal|SECURITY|Africa|CoAL|Cogeneration|Diesel|Eskom|Generators|National Energy Regulator Of South Africa|Pipelines|PROJECT|Projects|Sasol|Security|Systems|Transnet|Turbines|Water|Africa|Mozambique|South Africa|Security|Chemicals|Cogeneration|Electricity|Electricity Capacity|Electricity Crisis|Electricity Generators|Electricity-versus-fuels Equation Challenging|Energy|Energy Group|Gas Delivery Capacity|Gas Turbines|Gas-compression Station|Logistics|Natural Gas|Natural Gas Delivery|Natural-gas Feedstock|Power Generation|Power-generation|Security|Solutions|Systems|Transport|Benny Mokaba|Cogeneration|Pat Davies|Power|Security|Turbines|Water|Pipelines|R2|R300|Free State|Mpumalanga|Coal-to-liquids Technology|Diesel |Fine-coal Technology|Same Technology
© Reuse this
The JSE-listed group currently produces some 30% of the electricity it requires to produce liquid fuels and chemicals at production sites in the Mpumalanga and Free State provinces, and has even, at points, supplied electricity into the national grid, while power utility Eskom has engaged in load shedding as a result of supply-side constraints.
South African energy cluster head Dr Benny Mokaba says that, in addition to the Sasol board having approved funds for the installation of gas turbines at Secunda, the group is seriously investigating various other efficiency and generation options.
He declines to be drawn on precise figures, saying that assessments are still under way, but he has suggested to Engineering News previously that these efforts could yield upwards of 600 MW of own-generation and cogeneration capacity.
It is understood that the company will be submitting a bid for Eskom's ‘Pilot National Cogeneration Programme', tenders for which close at the end of May. It could also bid for the utility's so-called medium-term cogeneration tender, issued in February, where generation projects of between 5 MW and 1 000 MW, up to a combined capacity of 3 000 MW, will be assessed.
ELECTRICITY FROM GAS
The new gas turbines will be fuelled by natural gas from Mozambique, with Sasol and its partners having recently announced the construction of a R1,1-billion gas-compression station to facilitate a 20% expansion of natural gas delivery from Mozambique to South Africa by the end of 2009.
The gas-compression station will be based at Komatipoort in South Africa and will increase gas delivery capacity from the current 120-million gigajoules a year to about 147-million gigajoules a year. Construction will begin by mid 2008.
The additional gas will be used primarily as part of the first phase of a planned 20% expansion of the company's synfuel capacity at Secunda over the next eight years. But some of the additional gas is earmarked for the electricity generators.
CEO Pat Davies tells Engineering News that Sasol believes it can play an important role in dealing with the electricity crisis. But he stresses that the company's primary goal is to ensure reliable inland supply of liquid fuels, such as petrol, diesel and jet fuel, the supply of which is also tight. In fact, some company officials are particularly worried about diesel supplies, particularly if more affluent South Africans living in the hinterland purchase diesel generators for their homes and businesses, which could divert supply from transport to stationary applications.
"We have access to coal, we convert coal, we generate a third of our own electricity at the moment, we have access to natural-gas feedstock, and there are synergies between Eskom and ourselves. And we are looking for additional generation capacity," Davies explains.
SECUNDA AND MAFUTHA
This said, the growth in demand for liquid fuels will continue to make the electricity-versus-fuels equation challenging for the group.
Davies believes fuel supply will remain "reasonably tight" until new pipelines are built to transport fuel from the coast to the hinterland. There is also still haggling between State freight logistics group Transnet and the National Energy Regulator of South Africa, which is delaying the construction of the new multiproduct pipeline from KwaZulu-Natal to Gauteng.
"We are doing what we can to improve our production rates inland to compensate for that," Davies adds.
A key project in this regard is Sasol's plan to increase synfuel capacity at Secunda by 20% from the 155 000 bl/d production levels achieved in 2004. This would be done in phases, with some 15% of the additional capacity to be based on natural gas and the balance on coal.
Mokaba explains that, of the 15%, the Sasol board has approved enough money for the first 4%. The additional 11% is still in the feasibility stage, while the remaining 5%, possibly based on fine-coal technology, is still at the conceptual stage.
Further, Sasol has approved over R300-million to complete the feasibility investigations for the so-called Project Mafutha, which could involve the construction of an 80 000 bbl/d-plus coal-to-liquids facility in either the Free State or the Waterberg.
"The market is growing for liquid fuels so we need to fill that space by [installing] additional capacity. [We will do so] by using the same technology in Secunda and expanding that by 20%, and then with Mafutha adding about 80 000 bbl/d, at least, into that equation using the latest version of our coal-to-liquids technology," Davies explains.
Mokaba is also sanguine about the group's ability to achieve the Secunda expansion aspiration despite suggestions of water shortages, which could constrain the plant's production capacity.
There have been reports that the current scheme to augment water supply to the power stations and the synfuel complex in Mpumalanga is simply insufficient to cope with the higher load factors out of Eskom's plant, as well as the proposed Eskom and Sasol expansions.
However, Mokaba describes these reports as "alarmist". "It is true that South Africa is a water-restricted country. Therefore, every industry is looking at ways to save water. For instance, we are recycling our water four times in Secunda," Mokaba explains, adding that technological interventions, together with ongoing dialogue with the water authorities, should result in an "optimal way of dealing with any potential water shortage".
"We have seen the reports that the pipeline is not sufficient, but we will make a plan and find suitable technical and efficiency solutions," he adds, noting that it is also interrogating dry-cooling systems for both its new plant and the planned expansions.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Chemicals News
Article contains comments
Updated 2 minutes ago Development financier Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) on Tuesday reported a stable balance sheet for the 2013/14 financial year, boasting a net asset value of R1-billion at year-end. Speaking at the financier’s performance results at the ECDC headquarters...
Updated 23 minutes ago Failed South African lender African Bank Investments (Abil) is likely to re-list on the stock exchange early next year, and its government supervision will be concluded without the use of taxpayer money, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said on Wednesday. The central...
Updated 38 minutes ago Department of Trade and Industry export promotion and marketing chief director Zanele Sanni has invited manufacturing and advanced manufacturing companies from Shenzhen, China, to invest in South Africa, noting that Chinese investors could also access the additional...
Recent Research Reports
Defence 2014: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Defence 2014 report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key participants in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial multibillion-rand...
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
This Week's Magazine
The broad-based black economic-empowerment (BBBEE) alignment process in the con-struction sector has begun, dur-ing which the sector codes of the Construction Sector Charter Council (CSCC) will be aligned with the revised Codes of Good Practice (CoGP), which come...
It is second time lucky for Toby Venter. Ten years ago he negotiated to buy the Kyalami racetrack, but “the deal did not materialise”.
Environmental solutions company I-Cat started construction work on its R22-million, 1 949 m2 environmentally sustainable office and warehouse facility, commissioned by I-CAT Environmental Solutions, at a launch event in October. The new sustainable I-CAT campus,...
Effective file synchronisation and sharing across an organisation’s structures can provide the basis for robust mobile-device and document management while maintaining proper backup, version control and content distribution. These are the lessons learned by complex...
Hotel group Carlson Rezidor currently holds the largest hotel pipeline in Africa with 30 hotels and 6 300 rooms under development. The hotel group develops and operates Radisson Blu in the upper upscale segment and Park Inn by Radisson in the mid-market segment. With...