The report on the manufacture of basic chemicals, speciality chemicals and industrial gases in South Africa examines current conditions and developments as well as factors that influence the success of the sector including the regulatory uncertainty that exists. Profiles are provided for 27 companies including Rolfes Holdings Ltd which manufactures speciality chemical and organic products for the industrial, agricultural, food and water sectors. Also profiled are Orthochem (Pty) Ltd, a company based in the Free State that supplies raw chemicals for the water purification industry, and Shell Downstream South Africa (Pty) Ltd which produces hydrocarbons, industrial chemicals, lacquer thinners and solvent blends.
The Manufacture of Basic Chemicals, Other Chemicals and Industrial Gases
In 2015 the chemicals sector contributed 3% towards GDP and accounted for 21.9% of total manufacturing GDP in the country. Although there is strong local market demand for chemical products, this represents a decline from 2017 figures of 3.4% and 24.6% respectively. Role players attribute the decline in the sector to the increase in cheaper imported chemicals and feedstock as well as a difficult economic environment.
The sector is the recipient of government support through a variety of initiatives as the beneficiation of chemicals has the potential to grow the economy and increase levels of employment. Of importance to the local chemical manufacturing sector is the possibility of cheaper local feedstock through two sources: shale gas, through the controversial fracking of the Karoo; and the Fluorochemical Expansion Initiative, which aims to access the large fluorspar reserves in South Africa. Pelchem (Pty) Ltd, a subsidiary of the state-owned South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (NECSA), has been tasked with developing technology in fluorochemicals and to accelerate skills development in fluorine chemistry and engineering by engaging in research.