Johannesburg, South Africa — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 13 September 2011 – South African petrochemicals group Sasol, which has been under new leadership since July, says it will continue looking for lucrative gas assets to boost its production of chemicals and synthetic fuels.
Since the appointment of Canadian-born David Constable as the first non-South African to lead the group and the first external CEO in its 60-year history, investors have been hoping for a smooth transition at the energy giant.
Constable has said he is unlikely to change the course that has paid off for the energy and chemicals group and lifted profits by 27% in the year to the end of June 2011. “We will continue most definitely on the gas-to-liquids leg of the strategy, and that will take us to more international locations,” Constable told Reuters in an interview.
“For now we are in a very good shape… we are not turning the ship around.”
Reuters reports that Sasol is investing heavily in growth, especially by expanding its shale gas portfolio, with capital expenditure seen at R31 billion in the current financial year, rising to R32 billion in the following year. The company recently bought two shale gas interests in Canada and is likely to look for other assets in that area, in addition to Africa and the Asia-Pacific region.
Constable said that early next year Sasol would explore where to take its strategy in the medium to long term, especially in the light of growing concerns around carbon emissions linked to climate change.
Sasol is the world’s top maker of motor fuels from coal, but the company has increasingly been diversifying into chemicals, gas and clean energy projects, partially to align itself with wider moves towards a low-carbon future.
The company has already put on hold a planned 80,000 barrels-per-day coal-to-liquids project in South Africa due to regulatory hurdles and environmental concerns.