Sasol begins study for gas-to-liquids plant in Mozambique

9 July 2014

South African petrochemicals giant Sasol has begun work on a joint pre-feasibility study for a large-scale gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant in Mozambique, the company announced earlier this month.

The study, which is being conducted together with Mozambican state oil company Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos (ENH) and Italian multinational Eni, will assess the viability of a GTL plant based on gas extracted from the Rovuma basin.

Located off the coast of northern Mozambique, the deepwater Rovuma Basin has been the site of some of the biggest gas discoveries of the last decade. Eni is the operator of the Area 4 block of the Rovuma Basin, which is estimated to hold up to 85-trillion cubic feet of gas.

Last month, Sasol announced a separate partnership with Eni to explore for oil and gas in the Durban and Zululand basins along South Africa’s east coast.

New plant ‘would promote regional development’

“The proposed GTL facility firmly aligns with Mozambique’s Gas Master Plan goals, and, if successful, will go some way to accelerate socio-economic development in the country and the broader region,” Sasol CEO David Constable said in a statement.

“Our GTL aspirations highlight our commitment to partnering with the Mozambican government and Eni in the responsible development of the country’s natural resources.”

The company said that its proven GTL expertise, extensive market distribution footprint in southern Africa, and in-country experience of Mozambique, where it has been involved with gas infrastructure development for 10 years, placed it in a strong position to develop the country’s first GTL facility.

Sasol, one of the world’s largest producers of synthetic fuels, mines coal in South Africa and produces natural gas and condensate in Mozambique, oil in Gabon and shale gas in Canada.

Since launching its first GTL facility outside South Africa in Qatar in 2007, the company has been working to extend its global GTL footprint, its most advanced plans for new GTL plants being in Nigeria, Uzbekistan, Canada and the United States.

Decision on Louisiana plant expected this year

The company is currently working on the front-end engineering and design phase for a 96 000 barrels per day GTL plant in the US state of Louisiana. The project, which includes construction of a world-scale ethane cracker and downstream derivatives units, would be the largest single manufacturing investment in the history of Louisiana. Sasol is poised to make its final investment decision on the project this year.

In February, the company commissioned an ethylene tetramerisation project in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The plant, the first commercial plant of its kind in the world, beneficiates ethylene into products that are used in the manufacture of plastics that require elasticity and strength.

And in June, a partnership between units of Sasol and Ineos Europe AG reached a final investment decision to build a high-density polyethlyne plant southeast of Houston, Texas.

“This project will expand Sasol’s presence in the global chemical market and complement our North American growth strategy,” Sasol’s Fleetwood Grobler, group executive for global chemicals, said in a statement. “Its location offers several benefits, including access to US Gulf Coast infrastructure and proximity to our current and proposed ethane cracker and derivatives complex in southwest Louisiana.”

SAinfo reporter