Afrox is spending R600m on a new gas processing plant and large storage facility to prevent a recurrence of gas shortages says spokesperson Simon Miller.

$quot;We plan to invest in a new 250 tpd carbon dioxide [CO2] facility in Sasolburg, due to be commissioned in December,$quot; Miller said. The company hopes the new developments will solve their recent problems in meeting supply needs and consumer demand in South Africa.

In addition to the carbon dioxide processing plant, the storage facility will hold 3,500 tonnes of LPG to safeguard production capacity at the plant.

In June last year, Afrox was left unable to fulfil customers orders, despite being given notice in advance of LPG supplier plant shutdowns. This led to eight weeks of shortages that left businesses needing to shift production of fizzy drinks, while consumers had to make do with alternative beverages.

Again, in November Afrox ran short of 20 percent of carbon dioxide, which they say was a result of unscheduled shutdowns or feed stream deterioration of chemical and petrochemical sources. They also claim it was the first time the company had suffered from the problem and contingency plans were in place.

Despite these assurances, the carbon dioxide shortage hit customers such as soft drink maker ABI, which was unable to increase production in September and October to meet the consumer demand in December.