What We Do
Refinery

Overview

A strong commitment to the environment, safety & quality

In 1966, we bolstered our standing as a key investor in South Africa with the construction of a refinery in Cape Town. Many things have changed over the years, but one thing has not: our commitment to protecting both people and the environment. For us, it goes beyond merely paying lip service. Our commitment is evidenced in the fact that we have made it policy while investing significantly to make sure we put our money where our mouth is.

Our goal of zero environmental incidents is evident in our preventative and proactive approach to avoiding incidents. As a result, we consistently achieve continual improvement in the safety and environmental space.

emergency response

We have a 24/7 emergency response team with fully trained and certified firefighters and EMTs to further ensure the safety of people and the protection of our environment.

Contact our 24/7 emergency response team by SMSing the word ‘Info’ to 30786 and a refinery representative will call you back.

quality improvement

Our quality improvement programme is an integral part of Astron Energy‘s commitment to producing the finest fuels. Through mutual respect and teamwork, we create an environment that fosters continual improvement.

The refinery-wide programme is designed to ensure that we produce transportation fuels that not only meet performance expectations and are delivered on time but are always manufactured safely and in an environmentally sound way.

Environment

Protecting the environment in any way we can

We are constantly working to improve our efforts to protect the environment in which we live and work, through numerous programmes and policies. Our refinery is located between residential communities in the Cape Town area, so we take extra care to make sure we do the right thing to protect our employees, their families and our neighbouring communities.

Petroleum refining is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the world. We follow all required national and local laws that protect human health and the environment and regularly engage with oversight agencies to make sure we keep up with global regulations.

Safety

Fully committed to safety

At our refinery, all our employees take responsibility for and work together towards achieving our overall objective of zero safety and environmental incidents. We take our employees’ individual health and safety very seriously and are always looking at ways to ensure their well-being, constantly implementing programmes to maintain and create ever-improving safety records. Our preventative approach has helped us achieve a reputation for safety and operational effectiveness and, as a result, we have one of the best safety records in the industry.

24/7 emergency response

Our refinery has a full-time, on-site industrial fire department with a fire chief and fully trained and certified firefighters and EMTs. Their training ensures that we are equipped to deal with all types of emergencies.

There are five rotating crews, each with a shift leader who serves as the incident commander during emergencies. We also have volunteer Emergency Response Team (ERT) members within various work groups, who are trained to work closely with the fire department to further manage emergencies.
Due to our proactive approach, a large percentage of our fire department’s time is spent on prevention-related activities and ensuring that firefighting systems are maintained in optimal states.

Our fire department also regularly trains and performs drills with local fire departments to evaluate and improve firefighting procedures specific to potential refinery emergencies.

Process

How the refining process works

At our Cape Town refinery, we are committed to producing the finest fuels through our refining process:

Crude oil arrives at the Astron Energy refinery in its rawest form – whether pumped through pipelines or shipped thousands of kilometres in tankers.

Our team is then responsible for converting the crude oil into fuel that can be used – petrol for cars, jet fuel for airplanes, diesel for trucks and trains, propane and butane for home heating and braais, fuel oils, and certain chemicals for industrial use.

The refining process starts in the distillation towers, where liquids and vapors are separated into components according to weight and boiling point, with lighter, more valuable fuels separated from heavier products. Nearly all of the products are then hydrotreated to remove sulfur and nitrogen, by using hydrogen to bind with sulphur and nitrogen.

The resulting sulphur is recovered and sold for industrial use while the nitrogen is converted to ammonia for sale to the fertiliser industry and for use in the refinery. The remaining nitrogen is converted back to harmless nitrogen gas, which is a key component of the air we breathe.

Only about 40% of crude oil produces high-quality fuels when processed. The remaining components of crude oil give rise to heavy, poor performing fuels which need to be converted to usable transportation fuel through a process known as conversion or cracking:

  • The Fluidised Catalytic Cracking Unit (FCC), or “cat cracker,” cracks the heavy material into petrol
  • The Hydrocracking Unit, or ISOMAX Unit, makes use of our patented hydrocracking process to crack heavy material into jet fuel

Once cracked, the molecules must be arranged and rearranged to burn cleanly and with better performance, which is done via the Catalytic Reforming process to produce higher octane fuels. Finally, more than 200 hydrocarbons and additives are blended into the fuel.

The finished products are held in storage tanks, ready to be shipped via tanker, truck or pipeline to our customers throughout South Africa.

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What We Do

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