Why Secunda and Sasolburg

The project is scoped to focus on large industrial facilities in the petrochemicals sector in South Africa.  The first step was to shortlist the existing facilities in the sector to narrow the focus, a process which was done by assessing each of the facilities against the following criteria:

  1. Centrality – how important is the role the facility plays in both supply and demand in its value chains?
  2. Interlinkages – what is the extent of technical interlinkages with other significant facilities in the sector, in terms of material and energy flows?
  3. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – how material is its contribution to South Africa’s national GHG inventory?
  4. Lifetime – what are current expectations of the future economic lifetime of the facility?
  5. Governance – to what extent is it subject to one central point of control?
  6. Fossil fuel dependence – to what extent are fossil fuels are used for both feedstock and energy inputs?

The matrix below ranks the existing facilities in the South African petrochemicals space in terms of the above criteria, with green indicating “high”, orange “medium” and red “low”.

Secunda and Sasolburg emerge as warranting focus in the study in terms of ranking as “high” in all of the criteria used for shortlisting, apart from Sasolburg’s “medium” relative emissions. Natref, Sasol’s conventional crude oil refinery, also makes a “high” contribution in three of the criteria for shortlisting, but ranks lower in terms of centrality to its value chain, extent of technical interlinkages, and emissions relative to Secunda and Sasolburg. As such Natref is only explored in the study where there are linkages with Secunda and Sasolburg.

The future of PetroSA and many of the crude refineries is uncertain, and it is thus unlikely they will play a significant role in petrochemicals in South Africa, due to the poor economics of crude refining and the lack of feedstock for PetroSA. Each of these is separately owned and are thus not subject to a central point of control.