Sasol sees uptick in diesel demand, jet fuel muted

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  • Sasol said on Thursday it has seen an improvement the demand for diesel since the easing of Covid-19 restrictions 
  • Jet fuel demand however "remains constrained" and is expected to be below pre-Covid-19 levels for at least the next twelve months. 
  • On the chemicals front, essential care chemicals volumes were 10% higher than the prior year.


After experiencing a decline in liquid fuels demand due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, Sasol said on Thursday it has seen an improvement in the demand for diesel since the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

The petrochemicals firm said the demand for diesel was currently at pre-Covid-19 levels, while petrol was between 90 - 95% of pre-pandemic levels.

However, jet fuel demand "remains constrained" and is expected to be below pre-Covid-19 levels for at least the next twelve months. 

Liquid fuel sales volumes for the full-year are forecast at 54 – 55 million barrels, however "further Covid-19 lockdown restrictions could negatively impact our sales volumes outlook", the company said in a production and sales update for the nine months to end of March.

In April, Sasol cut back production at its Natref refinery, which it operates with Total South Africa, due to "unprecedented decline" in fuel due to the lockdown.  Natref production for the nine months ended 31 March 2021 was as expected, 15% lower than the prior year.

On the chemicals front, essential care chemicals volumes were 10% higher than the prior year, boosted by higher alcohol production and sales volumes from the South African-based assets were 1% higher compared to the prior year. 

The growth was achieved despite a power outage at the Sasolburg plant which was caused by a storm at the end of December 2020. The storm had forced the shutter of a number of units at the plant.

In another continent, severe weather patterns in the US between August and October 2020 negatively impacted business at the firm's Lake Charles Chemicals Complex, as Hurricane Laura and Hurricane Delta made landfall in the area where the plant is located in Louisiana. Sasol shut the facility in August after Hurricane Laura hit the US Gulf Coast and disrupted power supply.

In February 2021, another winter storm hit both the states of Texas and Louisiana, but the company said it was one of the few ethylene producers that were able to operate during and after the storm.

Chemical sales volumes from the US were 14% lower than the previous year, due to weather-related disruptions.  The company also stated that base chemicals sales volumes were further affected by the divestment of its 50% interest in the chemicals business at Lake Charles to LyondellBasell and the offloading of a 50% interest in the Gemini HDPE joint venture to INEOS Gemini HDPE LLC.

Both transactions were closed in December 2020.

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