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January 14, 2014

Sasol inaugurates plant to boost polyethylene production

Gerald Ondrey

Today, Sasol Ltd.’s (Sasolburg, South Africa) CEO, David Constable, and the South African Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, inaugurated Sasol’s new ethylene-purification unit, known as the Ethylene Purification Unit 5 (EPU5), in Sasolburg.

Located at the Sasol Polymers Plant in Sasolburg, the R1.9-billion ($175-million) ethylene-purification unit aims to address the growing demand for polyethylene material. The plant will also ensure better utilization of Sasol’s existing downstream polyethylene facilities, the company says.

In delivering his opening remarks at the official opening, David Constable said, “Through the installation of the new ethylene splitter, considerable production capacity has been freed up to produce more ethylene. In so doing, our investment in EPU5, together with a new compressor unit in Secunda, will provide the South African plastics manufacturing industry with an additional 47,000 tons of polyethylene annually.”

EPU5 is already in operation phase. Half of the additional 47,000 tons of polyethylene will be reached within the next six months, while the plant is expected to reach full capacity by 2017.

“The South African plastics industry is a significant contributor to the national economy. Local demand for polyethylene polymers continues to grow at a rate of 4 to 5% annually. With a rise in new plant capacities and the need to be globally competitive, we recognized the necessity to expand both polymer and ethylene production,” said Marinus Sieberhagen, Managing Director, Sasol Polymers.

The plant was also designed to reduce hydrocarbon flaring, which reduces the carbon footprint of Sasol’s total ethylene production capacity in South Africa.

Local engineering and construction service providers were sub-contracted to execute significant portions of the work. This amounted to approximately 4.6-million man-hours worked and resulted in all-important knowledge transfer and skills development in construction and advanced welding techniques.

 

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