South African petrochemicals giant Sasol, which yesterday reported
a 65% leap in operating profit during the second half of last year,
said that several of its projects were on schedule and reaching
completion, and would add to the group's bottom line in the
short-term to medium-term.
Reporting the group's interim results, in Johannesburg, Sasol chief
executive Pieter Cox outlined the main projects that the company is
currently involved in.
He pointed out that the Oryx I GTL project, a gas-to-liquids joint
venture between Sasol and Qatar Petroleum, is 75% complete.
The project is scheduled for completion in December this year, with
production expected to start in March next year.
It is expected that Oryx I will have an output of 34 000 barrels
per day (bpd), with a planned 65 000 bpd boost in output within two
years that would bring total output to 99 000 bpd.
In terms of liquid fuels, Cox said Sasol is currently awaiting a
Competition Commission decision, which should be delivered by
mid-year, in regards to the establishment of South Africa's biggest
liquid fuels company, Uhambo Oil.
Sasol last year concluded a deal with Malaysia's State oil company,
Petronas, to merge its downstream fuel operations with Petronas's
South African subsidiary, Engen.
Under the joint venture, Sasol and Petronas will each have a 37,5%
stake in the new company, and black-empowerment groups Worldwide
African Investments Holdings and Tshwarisano LFB Investment will
have a combined 25% interest.
Cox again stressed that Sasol is very upbeat about a
coal-to-liquids prefeasibility study that has been initiated in
The group is looking into the economic viability of constructing
two $3-billion to $4-billion coal-to-liquid plants in the Asian
country, after signing a memorandum of understanding with the
Combined Chinese Working Team (CCWT), as well as the Shenhua Coal
Liquefaction Corporation and the Ningxia Coal Group Company.
The CCWT represents two provinces in China with significant coal
reserves as the locations for the proposed CTL plants.
In Iran, Sasol is participating in a $900-million polymer joint
venture, which is expected to begin contributing to the group's
bottom line next year.
Cox noted that the project, known as the Arya Sasol Polymer
Company, a 50:50 joint venture with Iranian State-owned
petrochemicals group Pars Petrochemicals Company, is currently 85%
complete, and will be commissioned in the fourth quarter of this
The project, which will produce ethylene as well as high- and
low-density polyethylene, is scheduled to come on stream in phases
during late 2005 and early 2006 and will increase the group's
polymer production by 300 000 t/y.
Meanwhile, locally situated Project Turbo is also progressing well
and will be commissioned in January next year.
The R12-billion project consists of a number of developments that
will be undertaken in phases, with the first part entailing the
upgrading of an existing polyethylene plant in Sasolburg and the
second phase the completion of the key new world-class 300 000 t/y
polypropylene plant in Secunda.
The focus of these developments will be on preparing synfuels for
the new fuel specifications, which will come into force in January
2006, requiring South African refineries to supply 100% unleaded
Last week, the group announced that it has appointed Patrick Davies
to replace Cox as CEO from July 1.
Davies yesterday commented that he was honoured and delighted to
take on the new position.
“With the technology available to us, and the strong
management team, I am sure that Sasol will continue going from
strength to strength,” he said.