Minister calls for investment in SA

Monday, March 26, 2018

Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa has encouraged investors to invest in South Africa so that the country can reach the levels of growth required to meaningfully decrease the levels of unemployment and poverty.

Addressing the launch of the world’s First Oxygen Production Plant worth EUR200m (R2.9 billion) on Monday in Secunda, the Minister said government welcomes the investment and the partnership that Sasol has with Air Liquide as the country seeks to build its productive capacity and capability.

The project is the largest investment of its nature by Air Liquide outside Europe.

“This occasion marks one of the great strides in our ongoing efforts as a country to encourage both local and international investments to grow the economy, and ultimately improve the lives of South Africans,” Minister Molewa said.

Cleaner environment

She said the green field investment will make a meaningful contribution to a cleaner environment by consuming less electricity and reducing carbon emissions. 

“I have been reliably informed that this new air separation unit uses 20% less electricity which equates to avoiding approximately 200 000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per annum. The unit has capacity to produce 5 000 tons of oxygen per day,” she said.

The addition of this new plant will improve the ability to supply oxygen and argon to the industrial gas market in South Africa. 

“I am further informed that the production unit meets the highest standards of safety, reliability and efficiency, and includes first-of-its-kind innovation in the air compression process,” Minister Molewa said.

She said the investment will also address the challenges associated with climate change.

“Over and above, the socio-economic benefits, the establishment of this plant holds profound environmental benefits for Sasol and the country and the rest of the world, in the long-term. This development will most certainly reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and create a healthier and cleaner environment for all our people.

“As the world moves more rapidly towards the development of a cleaner and greener economy that promote the principles of sustainable development, there is a need to ensure efficient utilisation of resources, particularly our natural resources,” Minister Molewa said.

She said the plant will go a long way in ensuring that the habitats, biodiversity and species which a lot of people have come to depend on for their livelihoods, are preserved in posterity.  

17th Oxygen Train

Sasol Joint-Chief Executive Officer and Joint-President Bongani Nqwababa said the oxygen production trains extract air and produce oxygen from the atmosphere for utilisation in their processes.

“Over the years, these trains have been refurbished to improve overall plant integrity and lifespan. In early 2015, Sasol and Air Liquide signed an agreement under which Air Liquide would invest 200 million Euros for the construction of the world’s largest Air Separation Unit (ASU) in Secunda,” he said.

Through this agreement, Air Liquide has built, owns and operates this 5000 tonne per day air separation train to supply oxygen and nitrogen to Sasol.

Nqwababa said the oxygen capacity, created through the addition of the 17th train, enables the company to operate its Secunda complex up to at least 2050.

He said the state-of-the art air separation technology and economies of scale, make this 17th train the most energy efficient oxygen train on site with a significantly reduced impact on the environment.

“A key indicator of improved throughput is the increase in production volumes we have achieved from our Secunda Synfuels Operations. Here, we improved volumes from 7.3 to 7.8 million tons per annum (mtpa), although we will produce 7.7 mtpa in financial year 2018.

“Furthermore, by virtue of operating the world’s largest oxygen production facilities, we were able to trap comparatively large volumes of two rare or noble gases, krypton and xenon,” Nqwababa said.

The gases are used in advanced lighting systems, lasers, medical scanners and high-speed photographic systems, among other applications. –

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