Sasol outage means all South African oil refineries are now shut

Sasol Ltd, South Africa’s largest fuel producer, declared force majeure on the supply of petroleum products due to delays in deliveries of crude to the Natref refinery it owns with TotalEnergies SE, leaving just a fraction of the country’s fuel-production capacity still operational.

Natref, a 108 000 barrel-a-day plant, was forced to shut after the late oil shipments, the company said in a statement. “Sasol Oil will not be in a position to fully meet its commitments on the supply of all petroleum products from July 2022,” the firm said.

The shutdown means the whole of South Africa’s oil-refinery fleet is out of action after a string of other facilities suspended production over the past two years. As a result, the country’s monthly petroleum product imports are set to as much as triple by next year from pre-pandemic levels, energy consultant Citac said in a May report.

Only Sasol’s synthetic fuel operations, which use coal as a feedstock, remain fully operational, making up about a fifth of nationwide capacity.

A fire at the Engen oil refinery, which will be converted into a terminal, and an explosion at Glencore Plc’s Cape Town refinery, have rapidly curbed capacity.

Sapref, the country’s biggest plant, which is owned by Shell Plc and BP Plc, stopped operations ahead of a sale and was subsequently damaged by floods. State-owned PetroSA’s gas-to-liquids plant, another synthetic operation, has run out of feedstock.

Meanwhile, a clean-fuels policy that’s set to take effect next year raises the likelihood that refineries unable to meet the new standards will have to shut permanently.

For now, the outage at Natref is temporary. Crude oil shipments are expected to start arriving shortly, with the plant expected to ramp up to maximum production by the end of July, Sasol said. The partners have yet to conclude options on the future of the plant, Sasol chief executive officer Fleetwood Grobler said earlier this year.

The Cape Town refinery is also expected to restart in the second half of 2022.

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© 2022 Bloomberg

Things you need to know about SASOL oil refinery

Does Sasol refine crude oil?

The group explores for and produces crude oil in offshore Gabon, refines crude oil into liquid fuels in South Africa, and retails liquid fuels and lubricants through a growing network of Sasol Convenience Centres. Sasol also supplies Mozambique natural gas to customers and to its petrochemical plants in South Africa.

How old is Sasol Secunda?

Secunda CTL consists of two production units. The Sasol II unit was constructed in 1980 and the Sasol III unit in 1984. It has total production capacity of 160,000 barrels per day (25,000 m3/d).

Does Sasol produce oil?

Sasol has produced almost 1,5 billion barrels of synthetic fuel from about 800 million tonnes of coal since the first sample of synthetic oil from coal was produced fifty years ago at its Sasolburg plant near Johannesburg in South Africa on 23 August 1955

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