Promoting water stewardship

Water, as a resource, is becoming increasingly limited as world demand for water increases.
A significant part of our operations requires the use of large volumes of water. Maintaining water supply to our operations needs to be viewed against the backdrop of drought conditions occurring in several regions of South Africa.

Actively responding to the water challenge

Sasol’s coal mining, upstream oil and gas activities, chemicals and fuels production and supply chain logistics all have a direct link with water. As some of our larger facilities, suppliers and host communities are located in water-stressed areas, we have a heightened responsibility to apply good water stewardship practices.

Water is a critical feedstock for steam generation, process cooling and the production of hydrogen in various Sasol processes. Water is also a resource that our activities may expose to harm, notably effluent discharges or even chemical and oil spills. Sasol is required to pre-treat water and upgrade effluents in a way which promotes re-use and recycling. Further, Sasol produces products used generically in water treatment including disinfection, pH adjustment and scale-inhibition. Some of our polymer products are used to manufacture water storage tanks and water piping products.

Managing water supply risks

Managing water supply risks

Water risks are assessed using the Sasol global enterprise risk management approach. Through this approach, we assess the impact of water risks to our North American, Eurasian, Mozambique and South African Operations. Currently the greatest water risks lie within our South African Operations, with the Integrated Vaal River System (IVRS) being relied on to supply 88% of the Group total water demand.

The water supply to Sasol’s operations from the IVRS remains secure but long-term water supply risks persist due to a growing supply-demand imbalance which increases the probability of water restrictions being imposed on our operations in the long term. Sasol continues to actively respond to this risk through site and catchment based activities which advance water supply to all catchment users.

We are in support of the strategy being driven by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) to reduce urban losses, treating and recovering legacy mine water and implementing Phase 2 of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. Progress with these projects is achieving varied results and we continue to engage the DWS in expediting these actions to advance long-term water security for all users of the IVRS.

The DWS has reconstituted a strategy steering committee for the IVRS on which Sasol is represented.

While the current IVRS water levels are encouraging, compared to the previous period, the system continues to experience infrastructure challenges increasing the risk to our South African Operations. Sasol continues to provide ad-hoc support to the DWS to maintain infrastructure availability.

We have implemented site-specific water targets and continue to participate in the planning and performance monitoring activities of the IVRS. On-going participation in integrated watershed management initiatives is key to our water stewardship focus.

UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate

Sasol has endorsed the UNGC CEO Water Mandate’s water stewardship framework to assist in responding to water risks through on-site and catchment-based activities. As a signatory to the UNGC CEO Water Mandate we have again published an annual Communication on Progress against the six focus areas.

In November 2017, Sasol’s Joint CEOs recommitted Sasol to the CEO Water Mandate. One of the focus areas of the CEO Water Mandate is to assist companies in contributing to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 – Clean water and sanitation, which considers the sustainable management and access to water and sanitation for all. In order to contribute to SDG 6, businesses should recognise the rights of communities to water and sanitation and support government and other stakeholder efforts to provide universal access to clean water and sanitation. Sasol is accordingly committed to improving our water use efficiency and pollution prevention initiatives whilst partnering with host governments to resolve key water related challenges.

Disclosure is key to informing stakeholders on our water related risk mitigation initiatives. For the 2017 CDP Water Disclosure response, Sasol received a respectable B score on our CDP Water disclosure, which was above our industry average and that of our peers in our reporting sector. To improve on this score, Sasol will enhance its understanding of related supply chain water risks.

Reporting against voluntary water targets

Reporting against voluntary water targets

Sasol’s largest water users continue to report against voluntary water targets, agreed in 2015 and applicable up to 2020. Our Sasolburg Operations’ target is to maintain the 2015 baseline of 9,8 tons of water use per ton product – external sale3; this year we deteriorated by 6,4% against the baseline. This is attributed to a greater demand for river water due to the need for increased fire water and dilution requirements. The Secunda Synfuels Operations’ target is to achieve a 2,5% improvement in water intensity against actual consumption in 2014 of 11,6 tons of water per ton of saleable product. This year we reported a 2,1 % deterioration against the baseline. The deterioration can be attributed to low production due to external electrical infrastructure failure.

Further, our mining operations reported a 29,3% reduction in water demand during 2018 against the 2015 baseline, well exceeding the target to restrict the increase in potable water use to a maximum of 10%.

3. The definition of product – external sale differs from Total Production reported in the annual financial statements. The boundaries of this figure only includes product that is destined for sale to Sasol customers, and does not include product utilised or sold between the Sasol Group of companies.

For more information refer to our UNGC CDP and the Water focus story on (in the downloads tab).

Total water use
  • Our total water consumption decreased from 137,1 million m3 in 2017 to 134,4 million m3 in 2018.
  • The total quantity of water recycled was 178,4 million m3 which is constant as compared to 2017.
  • River water use decreased from 109,3 million m3 to 107,2 million m3.
  • Potable water use has increased from 12,5 million m3 in 2017 to 12,7 million m3.
  • Effluent discharge increased from 29,3 million m3 to 29,6 million m3.