Theunissen UCG
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About This Project

Since its establishment in 2000, Secunda-based CDE Process has rapidly expanded from humble beginnings, to become recognised as a world-class engineering services provider to internationally-recognised clients in the petrochemical, oil and gas, chemical and mining industries.

The company has previously provided class-leading designs for international projects in the European Union and China, and its latest breakthrough involves its third-generation underground coal gasification (UCG) design for a major power project in South Africa.

CDE Process is responsible for the design, implementation, execution and management of the project, with the first phase aiming to provide 50MW to the national grid by 2016. CDE Process founder and managing director Derrick du Preez points out that the official implementation of this project will set a new trend in international oil and gas, mining and power generation industries.

“This ground-breaking project is set to bring the oil and gas industry to the forefront of coal mining, and we are proud to be at the cutting edge of this initiative – which has the potential for almost unlimited growth,” he explains.

African Carbon Energy chairman Eliphus Monkoe highlights the fact that UCG is a substantially more cost effective and environmentally sustainable means of generating coal powered electricity, when compared to traditional mining techniques.

“Due to the fact that the coal remains in-situ, costs associated with extraction and transport of the ore is entirely eliminated. What’s more, the depth at which gasification takes place also eliminates the risk of coal fires, while minimising pollution by ensuring that ash remains safely underground throughout the entire process,” he states.

Bearing in mind that the average annual selling price of electricity has risen from 41,76c/kWh in 2010 to 65,76c/kWh in 2013, Monkoe is confident that UCG is the long-term solution to South Africa’s ongoing energy crisis.

“South Africa has enormous coal reserves that serve as the lifeblood for energy generation. The country is in need of more electricity to fuel economic growth and UCG offers a clean and cost-effective means of meeting these demands in the long-term by utilising deep coal that is currently inaccessible to standard mining practices,” he continues.

According to CDE Process, the company boasts a compliment of world-class expertise. “Projects are driven by highly-qualified and experienced engineers from idea generation, all the way through to implementation. This typically includes pre-feasibility, feasibility, design, construction, commissioning and performance evaluation.”

Du Preez reveals that the company sets itself apart from the competition with elegantly engineered solutions tailored to meet the client’s needs. “CDE Process prides itself on its unrivalled turnaround times and efficiency, without compromising quality.”

He adds that CDE Process is able to provide a world-class service twice as fast and at half the cost typically experienced in the industry. “This can be achieved thanks to the unique streamlined approach that CDE Process has to project development, and the national experts leading our design teams. The company is entirely independent and more efficient than its major competitors.”

Du Preez believes that this unique advantage will serve as a platform for substantial growth for CDE Process in the future. “The UCG project is history in the making and I believe that success here could see our business expand exponentially. Given South Africa’s vast coal reserves, I predict that long-term future growth potential is enormous for CDE Process and the UCG technique locally.”

While the current UCG project has opened up new and exciting avenues of growth and expansion for CDE Process, van Wyk indicates that the company’s roots lie in petrochemical projects, where it today provides of a vast range of engineering services to integrated energy and chemical company Sasol. He comments that CDE Process has been involved in almost every major project at Sasol’s flagship facility in Secunda over the past decade.

“CDE Process boasts an in-depth and comprehensive portfolio of petrochemical capabilities and experience, ranging from bio-diesel plants to column design and performance rating, to name a few. Over the years, our proven reliability and quality has resulted in a strong working relationship with Sasol, where we are actively involved in both new projects and maintenance projects,” he notes.

Van Wyk states that the company has also developed a strong reputation for providing mine water treatment solutions, particularly in Gauteng. “Acid water drainage remains a major concern, and authorities are investing more capital to address the issue. As a knowledge-leader in this field, I am confident that we can obtain measurable growth in the coming years,” he continues.

CDE Process’ water treatment capabilities also extend to innovative pollution control, plant effluent loading optimisation and water and effluent treatment optimisation for re-use. Despite continued international financial uncertainty, du Preez remains overwhelmingly optimistic of the future outlook for CDE Process.

“Although external factors remain a concern, CDE Process has experienced a significant increase in projects, including strategic partnering on two major international oil and gas projects. Africa is on the cusp of an oil and gas boom and no company is better positioned with technical expertise than CDE Process. I am proud to say that CDE Process is playing a pioneering role the advancement of this industry, which is vitally important not only to the local economy, but to the continent as a whole.”


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