Sasol to sell world’s biggest oxygen production site to Air Liquide

In bid to raise cash to pay off debts.
Image: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

Sasol has agreed to sell the world’s biggest oxygen production site in Secunda to France’s Air Liquide for about R8.5 billion, as it sheds assets to pay off debts and avoid a rights issue.

Read: Sasol’s debt reduction programme on track

Sasol, the world’s biggest producer of motor fuel from coal, said on Wednesday it had reached an agreement to sell the 16 air separation units, which have a capacity of 42 000 tons per day and produce oxygen for its fuels and chemicals production processes as well as other gases.

The move is part of Sasol’s drive to sell off assets amid the coronavirus crisis and oil price slump, which have left the company – already struggling following problems at a massive chemicals project in the United States – potentially facing a rights issue of $2 billion.

Air Liquide, an industrial gases company that has been present at the site since 1979 and already owns and operates one other air separation unit, said it would launch a multi-year plan to modernise the facilities.

“(The transaction) will allow both Air Liquide and Sasol to focus on their core business, combining operational efficiency and reduction of CO2 emissions,” said Benoit Potier, chairman and CEO of Air Liquide, which will supply gases to Sasol if the transaction goes ahead.

Sasol added the companies were aiming to negotiate final agreements by mid-August, with the transaction expected to close within fiscal 2021.

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This is great move for Sasol and South Africa. It will also encourage Air Liquide to invest more and grow in South Africa. This is a win win deal!

This is Great News. However what will it cost Sasol over the long run not owning its own oxygen supply which is crucial for its coal to fuels operations?

You win some and you lose some.

A lot less. Air Liquide will be paying for the maintenance and upkeep of the Oxygen Trains. Also I am sure they will have a over the fence agreement which would allow sasol to pay for Oxygen used and not having to store it onsite.

What trains? The oxygen plants are on Sasol premises and the oxygen is the lifeblood to the reactors. This is not good for Sasol.

Very smart move. Also, don’t be surprised if Sasol now suddenly complies to CO2 standards, without these Air Separation Units. Secunda’s Air Separation Units use as much electricity as Bloemfontein.

I believe that Air Luquide built that plant for Sasol, about twenty or thirty years ago.

Smart move sasol it will able to focus on its core business. It is amazing see an entity like sasol managing to rescue itself and move forward.
On other hand similar entities cry foul for bailouts

Two Cases in Point… Firstly Selling off the “Crown Jewels” is a last resort Survival Tactic, not necessarily a Strategic Decision. Secondly as one of the largest Carbon Emissions contributors globally, is Secunda an Industrial Site that can be rescued…a Ticking Time Bomb in my opinion?

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