TITLE: SASOL: South Africa's Oil from Coal Story--Background for Environmental Assessment.

AUTHOR: J. L. Anastasi.

INST.  AUTHOR: TRW Environmental Engineering Div., Redondo Beach, CA.

SPONSOR: Industrial Environmental Research Lab., Research Triangle Park, NC.


PUB.  TYPE: Technical Report

PUB.  COUNTRY: United States

SOURCE: Environmental Protection Agency [EPAORD],  Jan 80,  41p.


The report describes the world's only oil-from-coal plant, known as SASOL, operated by South Africa since 1955. When almost $7 billion worth of expansion is completed in the early 1980s, three SASOL plants will produce a total of 112,000 barrels of oil per day, or about half of South Africa's needs. Production costs average $17 per barrel, well below the1979 OPEC price of more than $20 per barrel. South African motorists pay about $2.40/gallon ($0.63/liter) of gasoline at the pump. SASOL converts to liquid fuels in two steps: (1) the coal is gasified with oxygen and steam under pressure to yield a mixture of reactive gases, and (2) after being cleaned of impurities, the mixture is passed over an iron-based catalyst in Fischer-Tropsch synthesis units to produce liquid fuels. SASOL's operation is helped by South Africa's abundance of cheap labor and low cost coal. The U.S., like South Africa, has vast coal reserves. Although comparisons are difficult, it has been estimated that oil could not be produced from coal in the U.S. for less than $27 per barrel and perhaps as much as $45. The South African system is the only commercially proven process for the production of synthetic liquid fuels. The report provides some of the background on a process that will receive high priority for environmental assessment.

REPORT  NUMBER: EPA 600/8-80-002