The South African liquid fuel industry is almost solely dependent on finite, fossil fuel sources and is over 100 years old. Initially, majority of the liquid fuel products (petroleum and diesel) sold in South Africa were imported as refined products, but in the 1940’s and 1950’s, the South African government identified the potential for energy security and entrepreneurial growth in the energy sector by using the abundance of low-grade coal to produce oil. The 1973 international oil crisis forced the government to expand Sasol’s coal-to-oil facilities. Discovery of off shore natural gas reserves in 1987 lead to the commissioning of a gas-to-liquid plant in Mossel Bay in 1992. Crude oil refineries also produce liquid fuels ad South Africa has four crude oil refineries.
Petrol and diesel are the two largest liquid fuel products required in South Africa and make up 80 % of the transport fuels used in the country. Although the second largest refining capacity in the continent, South Africa the refineries have been under utilised and as such, South Africa has had to import fuel to meet its needs.
Refinery throughput has steadily increased from 1980 to 2016 but, is set to decrease as the use of renewable resources increase.