Sasol H1 coal exports down 25% due to rail, mining problems

  • Exports impacted by poor rail logistics, stoppages
  • Coal-reliant firm signs 289-MW wind power deals

HARARE, Jan 24 (Reuters) - South Africa's Sasol (SOLJ.J) on Tuesday reported a 25% decline in coal exports during the first half of its financial year due to rail logistics problems as well as safety and operational stoppages at its mines.

In a production update, Sasol reported a 4% decline in coal output to 15.2 million tonnes for the six months to Dec. 31, with only 900,000 tonnes being shipped for export, compared to 1.2 million tonnes in its first half the previous year.

State-owned rail operator Transnet's under-performance, blamed on a shortage of locomotives and spare parts as well as cable theft and vandalised infrastructure, has hobbled South African coal exports at a time of high demand for the fossil fuel especially in Europe, after the European Union banned coal imports from Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

Separately, Sasol said it has signed three wind power purchase deals as it shifts towards renewable energy to meet its carbon emissions targets.

The world's biggest producer of fuel products and chemicals from coal is moving away from fossil fuels as part of its plan to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Sasol said it is partnering with French gas company Air Liquide (AIRP.PA) to source 220 megawatts (MW) of renewable power from two wind energy projects to be developed by Enel Green Power, a unit of Italy-based Enel (ENEI.MI).

The two projects will supply power to Sasol's Secunda site, where Air Liquide also has oxygen production operations.

The 220-MW wind-powered projects are scheduled to be operational in 2025 and are part of a plan to procure 900 MW renewable energy for Secunda, Sasol said.

"Sasol and Air Liquide's efforts to procure a total of 900 MW of renewable energy to decarbonise our respective operations at Secunda is another step towards Sasol’s aim to procure 1,200 MW of renewable energy capacity from independent power producers by 2030," said Priscillah Mabelane, Executive Vice President of Sasol's Energy Business.

Sasol also said it has signed an agreement with Msenge Emoyeni Wind Farm in South Africa's Eastern Cape region to supply 69 MW of wind power to its Sasolburg chemicals manufacturing operations, where it plans to produce green hydrogen.

Reporting by Nelson Banya; Editing by Alexander Smith and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.