Oil company pumps millions for varsity research

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pretoria - National oil giant PetroSA on Wednesday announced a R36 million sponsorship to establish a synthetic fuels research facility at the University of the Western Cape.

The company said in a statement the funding will provide for the construction of a laboratory to house a pilot plant size reactor for the study of the conversion of olefins to distillate (COD), which it said has proven to be an essential part of the intricate Gas-To-Liquids (GTL) process.

South Africa and PetroSA are pioneers and world leaders in the development of GTL technologies. PetroSA owns and operates one of the world's largest GTL plants in Mossel Bay, and the largest COD plant in the world.

"COD technology is recognized throughout the world for producing some of the cleanest fuels, through an environmentally friendly process," the company said.

The partnership will allow for research to be carried out with a focus on increasing the efficiency of the conversion of olefins to diesel fuel and improving the quality of diesel. PetroSA's COD process contributes to South Africa's liquid fuel supply.

PetroSA will relocate a significant part of its COD research activities from the present site at the Mossel Bay refinery to UWC for the duration of the five-year research programme.

PetroSA's Jorn Falbe said the sponsorship allowed the NOC an opportunity to produce unique specialty products while maintaining its leadership in the COD technology.

"Olefins represent a vital energy resource for South Africa and for the African continent as a whole thus the identification and monetization of suitable alternative olefinic COD feedstock by PetroSA is a major national interest," Falbe said