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

Sasol has upped its guidance for its Secunda coal-to-oil plant, saying on Thursday that production for its financial year to end-June was expected to be 3% lower than the prior year.

The fuels giant had faced an extended shutdown of its Sasol Secunda Operations (SSO) West factory due to technical issues, which had prompted a 6% decline in output in the first half of the company's financial year.

In its update for the nine-month to end-March, Sasol said it would now achieve production at Secunda that is towards the upper end of its guidance of between 7.5-million tonnes and 7.6-million tonness.

It reported higher average crude prices during the period, but said that this had been offset by weaker refining margins. Liquid fuels sales volumes rose 4% compared to the prior corresponding period, partially due to an improved performance at its Natref facility in Sasolburg.

Sasol's Lake Charles Project is now 96% complete, the company said on Thursday, having reported in February the embattled-facility was 94% done.

The project has weighed on the company's share price for years, facing delays and budget overruns.

Sasol said on Thursday its guidance for operations at the facility in 2019 were unchanged. In February, the fuels giant had upped it capital cost estimate for the project from $11.13bn to a range of $11.6bn to $11.8bn.

gernetzkyk@businesslive.co.za