Oct. 18 (UPI) -- South Africa's Sasol, a chemicals and energy company operating in 32 countries, on Thursday cut its production guidance at its coal-to-liquids Secunda Synfuels Operations in South Africa, while it also reported a 75 percent construction advance in its new petrochemical complex in Louisiana.
The company cut production guidance down to between "7.5 million and 7.6 million tons" for its July 2018-June 30, 2019 fiscal year because of technical difficulties that extended a planned shutdown, according to a Thursday press release.
The company also said that it has reached a 75 percent advance in its Lake Charles Chemical Project in Louisiana and that capital costs will remain within the previous market guidance of $11.13 billion. As of the end of September, expenses were $10.4 billion.
The company said in August it projected its fiscal year output at its Secunda plant to range from 7.6 million tons to 7.7 million tons. Secunda, located in the northeast of South Africa and which sources coal from regional mines, projected sales for that period of about 57 to 58 million barrels.
"Full completion of the total Secunda shutdown of the West Factory was delayed due to challenges experienced on a steam line project," Alex Anderson, a spokesman for Sasol, told UPI.
"A significant project unrelated to shutdown activities was undertaken to improve the integrity of the high pressure steam header on, and technical issues were experienced," he added.
Despite the reduced production, the company was able to meets its projected overall liquid fuel sales volumes in the first quarter thanks to higher oil prices and improved production at Natref, a crude oil refinery it owns inland South Africa.
As for the petrochemical complex in Louisiana, the company has said in the past that at the heart of the project is an ethane cracker with annual capacity to produce 1.5 million tons of ethylene and six chemical plants. Site preparation and construction started in 2014.
The company official did not comment on whether labor issues had any output impact at Secunda. A union started a three-week temporary strike over a compensation arrangement that only involved part of the workers, according to reports at the time.