Sasol Olefins & Surfactants optimizes alcohol production

28 May 2008

Sasol is increasing its competitiveness in the highly contested alcohol production market by bringing new capacity on line and simultaneously restructuring capacity in some inefficient operations. Commercial production of a new 60 000 metric tonnes a year oleochemical-based alcohols plant in Lianyangang, China, has commenced, while 50%, or some 65 000 metric tonnes a year of oxo-alcohol capacity at the Augusta plant in Italy, will be idled for an indefinite period of time.

"This optimization process forms part our comprehensive restructuring of the Sasol Olefins & Surfactants business. The rigorous turnaround of this operation reflects a significant improvement in restoring profitability and acceptable returns in challenging market conditions," says Reiner Groh, executive director of the Sasol Chemical Business Cluster.
Sasol Olefins & Surfactants is a prominent global supplier of alcohols with a total capacity in excess of 600,000 metric tonnes per annum, and manufacturing plants in Europe, the United States, South Africa and China.
The Wilmar China Investment (Yihai) and Sasol Olefins & Surfactants joint venture oleochemical- based plant with a nameplate capacity of 60 000 metric tons per annum recently became operational. "We are extremely satisfied that the plant was able to start up very close to on schedule and under budget," says Kuok Khoon Hong, CEO and chairman of Wilmar.
"We are positioning this plant to become a key supplier to the fast growing Chinese alcohol market," says MD of Sasol Olefins & Surfactants, Hannes Botha.
According to Botha, the idling of about 65 000 tonnes of oxo-alcohol capacity at its Augusta plant in Italy is enabled by restructuring upstream paraffin and olefin operations which provide the feedstock for alcohol production. Part of the reduced capacity will be replaced by alcohols produced at other plants in Sasol's network and the capacity reduction programme is anticipated to be completed by June 2008. Fixed and variable costs will also be reduced at Augusta.
Sasol is the only producer utilising oleochemical, petrochemical and coal-based feedstocks. This enables the group to offer the broadest portfolio of products to customers, including linear, semi-linear, and branched alcohols, as well as tailor-made single fractions and blends to meet specific customer requirements.
Alcohol is used in a broad spectra of industrial, household and personal care products, including detergents, paints, varnishes aftershave lotions, deodorants and perfumes.

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