Cash-strapped Sasol (Johannesburg, South Africa) has received offers from companies including CPChem, LyondellBasell, and Ineos for a large stake in Sasol’s Lake Charles, Louisiana, petrochemical complex, according to a Bloomberg report citing people familiar with the matter.
These companies and others are moving into a second round of bidding for a stake in the almost-completed complex, which could raise more than 29 billion South African rand ($1.68 billion) for Sasol, according to Bloomberg.
In response to CW’s inquiry, Sasol says that the company does “not comment on ongoing commercially sensitive and/or M&A processes and we do not react to market speculation.” Sasol adds, however, that its expanded asset-disposal process has yielded good interest from strong contenders.
Sasol announced in March that it was reviewing a variety of actions to address the challenges created by the impact of COVID-19 and the recent decline in oil and chemical prices. “A package of measures have been developed that are intended to reposition the company over the following 24 months. One of these measures will be our existing asset-disposal program… This includes the potential for exploring partnering options at Sasol’s…US-based chemicals business,” Sasol says.
The cost of the Lake Charles complex has risen sharply from early estimates to R192 billion and this, together with falling oil prices, has hurt Sasol’s finances. The Lake Charles complex is based on a 1.54-million metric tons/year ethane cracker that started production last year. The ethylene will be used in six downstream plants on site to produce ethylene oxide, ethylene glycol, ethoxylates, and low-density and linear low-density polyethylene (PE), as well as Ziegler and Guerbet alcohols. About 10% of the ethylene will be surplus to requirement and sold on the merchant market as well as supply Sasol’s share of its high-density PE joint venture (JV) with Ineos in Texas. The 50/50 JV is designed to produce 470,000 metric tons/year.
Sasol warned recently of a loss on the Lake Charles project in 2020. Despite the continuing ramp-up of the project, further price weakness means that the EBITDA contribution from Lake Charles for financial year 2020 has been revised to a loss of $50–100 million, the company says.
By: Natasha Alperowicz
Source: Chemical Week
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