• Oryx GTL plant's output declines with lower utilization rate
  • Base-chemical sales drop as expected at March results

Sasol Ltd., the world’s biggest producer of liquid fuels from coal, said nine-month synthetic-fuels production climbed 3 percent from a year earlier, while output from its Oryx gas-to-liquids facility in Qatar declined.

Sasol processed 25.4 million barrels of fuel in the nine months ended March 31, from 24.6 million barrels a year earlier, the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement on its website Thursday. Output from Oryx fell 6.3 percent to 3.56 million barrels, with the facility’s capacity-utilization rate dropping to 81 percent from 87 percent.

Sasol has implemented programs to conserve about 75 billion rand ($5 billion) of cash through 2018 as oil prices have declined 31 percent in the past 12 months. It delayed a decision on whether to build a gas-to-liquids plant in the U.S., which would have cost as much as $14 billion, and is also reviewing the pricing and timing of the construction of a chemicals plant there.

Sasol expects Brent oil to stay in a range of $25 to $40 a barrel, while margins for base chemicals will remain under pressure resulting in lower sales volumes, it said in March.

Base-chemicals sales declined to 2.2 million tons from 2.4 million tons in the previous year.

Natref, South Africa’s only inland crude oil refinery, increased processing by 0.6 percent to 15.9 million barrels, Sasol said. The facility is a joint venture between the producer and Total South Africa (Pty) Ltd.

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