2010 Edelman Finalist Sasol

Sasol - Innovative Decision Support in a Petrochemical Production Environment

Declining fossil fuel reserves, stricter clean fuel specifications, fluctuating oil and gas prices, a recessionary world economy and unique developing world issues are some of the challenges facing Sasol, an integrated energy and chemical company based in South Africa. A passion for innovation has made the company a world leader in unique technologies including the application of Operations Research. A perfect example is Sasol's Modeling Operations using Stochastic Simulation (MOSS) methodology. Historically, the petrochemical industry based business decisions on average production limits. This approach ignored any time-based variability, hence requiring the addition of a design margin and more expensive production facilities. Sasol Technology's Operations Research team developed MOSS to address the critical need to include this key factor in decision making. The team uses MOSS models to develop business cases for gas and liquid production facility modifications, to highlight risks and to assist strategic decision making. They also analyze the impact of changing market conditions, product composition, operations efficiency, operating philosophies and schedules. These models have provided an estimated value addition for Sasol of over $230 million since 2000. Although not audited, this is considered a conservative estimate since it does not account for the improvements in energy efficiency, green house gas emissions, general risk reduction and the overall understanding of Sasol's complex and integrated systems. Sasol believes that this work has applications in the wider chemical and fuels industries and represents a major innovative step forward for Operations Research in the Chemical Engineering discipline.