Sasol’s ethylene splitter unaffected by Secunda blast

Source: ICIS News

2004/09/06

JOHANNESBURG (CNI)--Sasol’s 170 000 tonne/year ethylene splitter was unaffected by last week’s fatal explosion at the synthetic fuels complex in Secunda, South Africa, a spokesman for the South African energy and petrochemicals form told CNI on Monday.

The blast occurred on 1 September and the death toll reached seven today.

“The explosion was at the Secunda cracker during its maintenance shutdown," the spokesman said. "The ethylene splitter [at Secunda] and the cracker in Sasolburg are not affected by the explosion.”

Sasol’s monomers business operates two ethylene crackers, one in Sasolburg and the other in Secunda.

The Sasolburg cracker is rated by Sasol at about 70 000 tonne/year and it puts the damaged Secunda cracker's capacity at about 200 000 tonne/year. In addition, the firm has an ethylene splitter in Secunda that operates independently of the cracker.

“We are optimising the utilisation of the splitter in Secunda and the cracker in Sasolburg," the spokesman said.

Sasol was continuing to look into the damage caused at the ethylene plant.

The spokesman said: “An assessment of the damage to the plant is currently in progress but preliminary indications are that there will be a delay in the planned start up of the Secunda ethylene plant.

“The duration of this delay is not yet known and the extent to which this situation will affect our polymer supply capability is also still being assessed.”

Most of the ethylene produced is piped to Sasol’s polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyethylene (PE) complex at Sasolburg. Large quantities of ethylene are also supplied to Dow Plastics’ high-density polyethylene (hdPE) plant at the same site, the spokesman said.

“All internal businesses as well as Dow Plastics are operating on reduced supplies of ethylene. Dow Plastics have been notified and are being kept abreast of any new developments,” he added.