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Sasol not participating in filling station development

24 January 2006

Sasol today announced that it is no longer participating in the development of a filling station currently undertaken by a site developer, Petro Props (Pty) Limited, on Rondebult Road in Libradene, Boksburg.

Sasol is not satisfied that the validity of the authorisation for construction of a filling station on the Libradene site has been determined, and that the required approvals and authorisations for the development of the site have been granted.
Additional information regarding the licensing of the site has become available. As a responsible corporate citizen that is sensitive to public and environmental concerns, Sasol has considered the latest information. Obviously, the establishment of a filling station must have all the required authorisations and consents that such a development requires.
Historically, Sasol agreed to lease the particular site from the developer after a study of traffic patterns along Rondebult Road indicated that it would be an attractive business opportunity. All the required authorisations and approvals for the proposed development, together with the rights to develop a service station on the site had to be obtained by the developer along with an environmental authorisation (Record of Decision) for the development. The Record of Decision supplied to Sasol by the developer at the time appeared to have been approved by the Gauteng Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Environment (GDACE).
Sasol entered into a lease agreement with the developer for the lease of the development in good faith. In terms of this agreement Sasol would lease the property from the developer once the required approvals and authorisations for the site had been granted and it became operational. Sasol does not own the property. Sasol was only responsible for assessing the feasibility of the filling station and thereafter for the installation of fuel pumps, tanks, shop fittings and signage.
Sasol has taken a keen interest in the events as they have unfolded in recent months and has been actively reviewing all the decisions taken and concerns raised by interested and affected parties regarding this development. Having considered the latest events, Sasol is not satisfied that all the conditions in the lease agreement with the developer have been met.
Soon after site development commenced, some members of the local community claimed that it was taking place on an environmentally sensitive area. Sasol appointed an independent environmental specialist to review aspects of the initial scoping report, to comment on the potential environmental impacts, consider the concerns raised by interested and affected parties, and to propose best practical environmental options to mitigate the situation, given that construction had already commenced. In addition Sasol initiated and facilitated discussions with the action group and undertook to support the community in uplifting the quality of the area, which prior to the development had become severely polluted and neglected.
In December 2005, GDACE announced that it would legally contest the validity and regularity of the authorisation held by the developer. It brought an urgent application to the High Court and issued directives to Sasol and the developer to cease construction on site. The application brought by GDACE was struck from the roll, due to a lack of urgency, and GDACE subsequently indicated that it might seek alternative legal relief, ordering the decommissioning of the development and rehabilitation of the environment.
In discussions with GDACE late last year, Sasol undertook to adhere to the directive as far as activities within its control were concerned, namely the installation of tanks and associated equipment. Sasol has also publicly stated that it will abide by a court decision in respect of the validity of the GDACE authorisation.

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