Sasol Ltd., the largest and possibly most crucial fuel producer in South Africa, has declared force majeure on its supply of petrol, due to late deliveries of crude oil to Sasol’s own Natref refinery.
“Sasol Oil will not be in a position to fully meet its commitments on the supply of all petroleum products from July 2022,” it said.
The company went on to confirm that the shutdown of the 108,000 barrel-per-day plant was due to late oil deliveries. This leaves South Africa in a particularly tricky spot. Sasol’s Natref was the last major refinery left in SA. Its closure could cause major troubles.
Sasol takes a hit
Over the past two years, South Africa has seen a halt in production from a great number of oil refineries. Because of this, South Africa is set to become even more dependent on fuel imports. Great.
According to a report from energy consultant Citac, SA could be heading towards tripling our supply of imported fuel by 2023. In Citac’s report, the numbers mentioned are based on pre-pandemic levels. So the real number won’t triple our current import figures. Just to put your mind at ease.
Luckily for us, the shutdown of Natref is only temporary. Sasol believes that by the end of July, operations will be fully up and running, with oil shipments likely to arrive by then. Which is great news. But it places even more pressure on the refinery. If all goes to plan, the Cape Town facility is expected to reopen for business in the second half of 2022. This could mean next week, or in four months – but it’s coming.
Still, it leaves Natref without help from at least the five other top oil refineries in South Africa. There’s no word on when we can expect the other refineries to open, either. The country is still waiting on news from Sapref, Secunda, Engen, Astron, and PetroSA.