Originally known as the South African Coal, Oil and Gas Corporation, Sasol was established in 1950 with funding from South Africa's Industrial Development Corporation. During the 1960s Sasol became a major supplier of raw materials to the chemical industry notably solvents for paints, sythetic rubber, fertilisers and plastics. In the mid-1960s the company began to research the production of fuels from coal in response to South Africa's need for fuel in the face of the international embargo on the country as a result of the apartheid policy. The company began to produce ethylene and gasoline in the late 1960s but its biggest breakthrough came in 1972 when the company succeeded in producing synthetic fuels. The company received a boost in 1973 when OPEC hiked oil prices around the world, causing an oil crisis and as a result of increased demand Sasol opened two extra manufacturing facilities in the late 1970s. In 1979 the South African government decided to float the company on the Johannesburg stock exchange. There was further expansion into coal mining (the company owns its own mines, producing around 40m tonnes a year and in the fertiliser and explosives businesses.
With the gradual movement towards democracy in the 1980s Sasol was able to consider international expansion although. The arrival of FW De Klerk's new government in 1989 accelerated the process of reform and in 1991 the laws of apartheid were abolished. Sasol immediately agreed a sponsorship deal with the Jordan F1 team, in an effort to increase the company's international exposure. The deal lasted for three seasons and in 1995 Sasol moved to Arrows.
At the end of that season, however, the company withdrew from F1 sponsorship because of the slide in the value of the rand against other international currencies but it is still heavily involved in motor racing sponsorship within South Africa.