A man walks past a Sasol synthetic fuel plant. Picture: REUTERS
A man walks past a Sasol synthetic fuel plant. Picture: REUTERS

Sasol will need as many as 18 months to decide on the best option for the Natref refinery ahead of SA’s anticipated cleaner-fuel standards.

“The technical solution doesn’t currently make the adequate returns we need, so more work is required as to what are the solutions,” Sasol co-CEO Bongani Nqwababa said in an interview on Friday at the opening of the company’s Impumelelo coal mine.

A sale of Natref would be considered if that is the most economic option, the company said in August.

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Sasol last year began a review of the 108,000-barrel-a-day Natref refinery and the 150,000-barrel-a-day Secunda plant, which together account for more than a third of SA’s fuel production capacity.

SA announced the Clean Fuels II policy in 2012 to cut sulphur levels in gasoline and diesel, but the rules have not yet been implemented.

Sasol holds a 64% stake in Natref, and the options would need to be decided with Total SA, which owns the remainder, Nqwababa said.

“There is clarity” on the technology required for the Secunda refinery and teams are working on the business case, expected in six months to a year, he said.