South Africa’s petrochemical producer Sasol is optimistic that its 32,400 b/d Oryx gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant (Sasol 49%, Qatar Petroleum 51%) in Qatar has overcome its reliability issues. In a fiscal year-end earnings call, Sasol’s CEO, David Constable, said “in May and June in Qatar, the average run rate equaled 106% of design capacity, proof that our GTL technology is fully commercialized and ready to rollout elsewhere in the world.” In fact, Sasol reported that Oryx’s run rate topped 108% in August; the company is confident that it is airing on the side of caution in using a rate of 85% as guidance for the plant – despite the troubles that have plagued Oryx since it came online in 2006.

MEES reported on 16 August that Sasol and Qatar Petroleum may have stabilized production at Oryx after seven years of start and stop. Yet Sasol’s guidance suggests that the company is factoring in future glitches and shutdowns. While suggesting that Oryx could very well exceed 85% runs going forward, Sasol’s CFO Christine Ramon noted that the plant has yet to stay online for 12 consecutive months. Indeed, Ms Ramon indicated that Oryx was brought offline in 2013 and that the problems have affected the company’s profitability: “Sasol Synfuels international operating profit declined for the first time by 15% and that was primarily on the back of lower volumes from ORYX GTL due to extended statutory shutdown as well as higher US GTL feasibility study cost.” (CONTINUED - 287 WORDS)