Sasol Olefins & Surfactants optimizes alcohol production

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. 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. According to Hannes Botha, MD of Sasol Olefins & Surfactants, 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.

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