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PetroSA restarts gas-to-liquids refinery

South Africa's national oil company PetroSA has restarted its 45,000 bpd gas-to-liquids Mossel Bay refinery, its spokesman said on Monday, which should ease a shortage of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and bitumen in the country.

Africa's biggest economy has been hit by shortages of the two products due to planned and unplanned shutdowns at four of the country's six refineries.

PetroSA oil rig. Credit: Independent Newspapers

LPG is used in manufacturing processes, as fuel and by households, while bitumen is used in road construction.

When asked about the status of PetroSA's refinery that was shut after a steam line failure, the company's spokesman Thabo Mabaso said: “We have started operating about a week or so ago.”

Engen Petroleum has said its 125,000 barrels-per-day plant will be shut until the end of November due to a fire and planned maintenance works at the plant.

SAPA national news agency said on Monday about 20 Engen service stations across the country have run dry owing to the shutdowns.

The company could not immediately be reached for comment. Engen runs 1,200 service stations nationally.

A 180,000 bpd SAPREF refinery, jointly owned by Shell and BP, shut one of its process units for repairs after a problem was discovered during a post-maintenance restart. A spokeswoman said on Oct. 27 it would take around two weeks to repair the unit.

It is expected that South Africa's refineries should again operate at over 95 percent of their total 708,000 barrels-per-day capacity by the third week of November.

Other refineries in South Africa include Chevron's 100,000 bpd Chevref refinery, the 108,000 bpd Natref refinery jointly owned by Sasol and Total and Sasol's 150,000 bpd refinery at Secunda. - Reuters

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