The strategy of joint ventures

The strategy of joint ventures

Daniel Bugan
South African chemical and energy company Sasol is forming various partnerships to expand its exploration and production activities in the global oil and gas industries

"South African chemicals and energy company, Sasol, depends on a number of joint venture operations to expand its oil and gas exploration and production activities around the globe," says Alex Anderson, head of Group Media Relations at Sasol. The world-renowned company, established in South Africa in 1950, has exploration and production projects in South Africa, Mozambique and North America.

A partnership with Mozambique

Anderson says Mozambique is the heartland of Sasol’s upstream operations, and is built on a number of joint-venture partnership agreements. "In Mozambique, we established the Natural Gas Project in partnership with a subsidiary of the National Oil Company, in terms of a Petroleum Production Agreement (PPA), which came on stream in 2004," says Anderson. The Natural Gas Project involves cleaning and processing natural gas from the Pande and Temane fields in the Inhambane province in Southern Mozambique. The gas is then transmitted via an 865 Km pipeline to gas markets in South Africa and Mozambique. "The initial investment in the project, which included wells, a central processing facility and a pipeline, was estimated at $1.2 billion up until 2003, and we’ve invested more since then," said Anderson.

Other crucial joint ventures

In 2014, Sasol also entered into a joint venture with Electricidade de Mocambique for a
175 MW gas-to-power plant at Ressano Garcia, situated on the border between Mozambique and South Africa. The plant utilises 11 million gigajoules per annum of Mozambique Ppa licence gas, and supplies electricity to more than 2 million Mozambicans. Anderson says the partnerships with the Mozambican state-owned enterprise is of great value to Sasol as they bring local knowledge, local market access and expertise to the table. Sasol has also developed joint venture partnership agreements in South Africa, Australia, Canada and Gabon. These include a 50/50 exploration and production partnership with Canadian operator, Progress Energy Canada, and a 3-way partnership with Shell Development Australia and Finder Exploration. Anderson says Sasol looks for several characteristics in joint venture partners, such as financial strength, technical and commercial acumen, proven operating capability (in operating partners), market access and knowledge and sound reputation and government relationships. Alignment on asset portfolio and product monetisation strategies will also be taken into consideration. He says Sasol uses an internally approved partner-assessment process to identify, screen and rank potential joint-venture partners which reflects the above criteria, Sasol’s values and business requirements.