03 December 2012 17:52 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (ICIS)--Sales volumes at Sasol's South African-based polymers business were 5% higher year on year for the three months to 30 September 2012 because of a recovery - albeit, a slow one - in the polymers market, the company said on Monday.
Sasol's CFO Christine Ramon said: "This performance was underpinned by an 8% increase in saleable production, despite a number of prolonged scheduled maintenance outages at a number of the polymer plants."
In a trading update on Sasol's first quarter financial year 2013, Ramon said the increase in sales volumes was partially offset by the recent road freight industrial action.
Ramon said the company continues to experience margin pressure, incurring an operating loss of South African Rand (R) 682m ($76.6m) for the three months ended 30 September 2012.
"While sales prices are increasing in rand terms on the back of a weaker rand/US dollar exchange rates and lower US dollar-based prices, higher feedstock costs are eroding these benefits," Ramon said.
Upstream, Sasol Synfuels' fiscal year-to-date production has increased by 12% year-on-year "underpinned by stable operations of the running plant during a planned phased maintenance outage in September 2012."
The good production rates and favourable prices helped support increased opearting margins at Sasol Synfuels for the fiscal first quarter of 2013, the company said.
Sasol's emphasis on the phasing of scheduled maintenance outages - in order to ensure stable operations at the running plant - has contributed to increasing its maintenance outage costs, it said.
Looking ahead at their project pipeline, Sasol said the Ethylene Purification Unit (EPU5) project - which will increase ethylene availability for its polyethylene plants - is expected to be operational in the second half of the 2013 calendar year, while the C3 stabilisation project will achieve "beneficial operation" in the middle of the 2014 calendar year.
Sasol's half-year fiscal year 2013 financial results are expected to be announced on 11 March.
($1 = R8.90)
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