Sasol has completed yet another major capital investment in South Africa as part of its dual-regional, multi-asset hub growth strategy in Southern Africa and North America.
The company unveiled the C3 Expansion Project, which enables Sasol to increase its polypropylene production capacity by 103 000 tons per annum from its Secunda Chemicals Operations, while also realising improvements in environmental impact.
“This particular investment further entrenches Sasol as a global chemicals player,” said Stephen Cornell, Joint President and Chief Executive Officer, Sasol Limited.
“With more than R1 billion invested, we are proud to unveil this capital investment.”
Polypropylene is one of the world’s most widely used petrochemical products.
A versatile polymer, the product has a variety of applications which include packaging for consumer products, plastic parts for various industries including the automotive industry, and textiles.
The chemical serves double duty both as a plastic and as a fibre.
Sasol has been manufacturing polypropylene since 1990 feedstock in two plants in the Secunda complex.
These plants were constructed in 1989 and 2007 and manufacture a variety of grades, which include homopolymers, random copolymers and impact copolymers.
This petrochemical product is used in a wide range of commercial and household applications.
These include packaging for consumer products, fibres, automotive components, hygiene products (baby diapers), raffia bags (cement bags), yogurt tubs, household containers, paint containers, sterile packaging, car batteries, garden furniture, carpets and film.
Today, Polypropylene is one of the most commonly produced plastics in the world.
The demand for this product is expected to continue to rise driving by global trends in the consumer packaging and the preference for, among other things, light motor vehicles.
The volume of polypropylene consumed in South Africa, has grown at an average of 4.1% per year over the past five years and significant opportunities prevail to establish further downstream manufacturing facilities.
In addition to supplying local industries, Sasol currently exports 424 000 tons of polypropylene to China, South America, Europe and the USA.
The C3 Expansion Project started in 2013 and achieved overall beneficial operation in February this year.
According to Alex Anderson, Head of Sasol’s Group Media Relations, the purpose of the expansion project was to debottleneck the two downstream polypropylene plants to improve overall efficiency resulting in increased polypropylene production.
This project included extracting fuel-based propylene molecules and converting these to higher value polypropylene by replacing certain parts of the plants.
The two downstream polypropylene plants now have design capacity of 625 000 tons per annum, which includes an additional 103 000 tons per annum.
More than R1 billion in capital was spent, with improvements in environmental impact.
About 920 construction jobs were created during this project with the vast majority of people coming from local communities.