Friday, March 1, 2019

South African Ports Get into Energy as Demand Grows

Two Facilities Developed to Accommodate
Shipping News Feature
SOUTH AFRICA – The finding of significant quantities of gas condensate on the Brulpadda prospects, located on Block 11B/12B in the Outeniqua Basin, 175 kilometres off the southern coast of South Africa, has ramifications for the small Port of Mossel Bay which lies between its larger conventional freight and container handling siblings of Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.

Mossel Bay is the smallest of the commercial ports on that coast and, whilst fishing has formerly been the biggest industry there, is also home to one of only a few gas-to-liquids refineries around the world, Mossgas, operated by national oil company PetroSA, is actually the only regional facility which can process condensates, a kind of light crude oil.

The discovery by Total follows a drilling campaign it commenced in November 2018 which is due to be completed this month, and government sources say the potential reservoir of one billion barrels will significantly boost the country's oil and gas supplies. Block 11B/12B covers an area of 19,000 square kilometres, with water depths ranging from 200 to 1,800 metres, and is operated by Total with a 45% working interest, alongside Qatar Petroleum (25%), CNR international (20%) and Main Street, a South African consortium (10%).

The new development has been welcomed by the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and Mossel Bay Port Manager, Shadrack Tshikalange, said so far the port’s role in the drilling expedition involved providing land and quay space for the logistics base operations, as well as marine services such as piloting, berthing, craft services and vessel and traffic control to the vessels involved in the exercise.

In other TNPA news, last week saw the initial works at the site of the Port of Ngqura’s future liquid bulk tank farm which will connect to a newly equipped liquid bulk berth. This comes ahead of the planned decommissioning and rehabilitation of the existing liquid bulk facilities at the neighbouring Port of Port Elizabeth, which will pave the way for Ngqura’s establishment as a new petroleum trading hub for Southern Africa.

The new tank farm is expected to provide storage and marine infrastructure to support the overall petroleum demand projections for South Africa, and the sod-turning ceremony was attended by oil industry principals and government officials. Liquid bulk products will be transported to the Port of Ngqura via ship and piped to the tank farm prior to local supply and/or local and global re-export. The new modern facility will service the oil majors, new entrants into the South African oil industry as well as international traders, all supporting the local shipping industry.

Initial earthworks are getting under way whilst civil, mechanical and electrical contractors will be appointed shortly and they will be employing from within the community and developing skills within the construction industry. It is anticipated that 500 local jobs will be created during the construction phase of the project. The total number of permanent staff required for the terminal would be in the region of 50.

Photo: The Pacific Dragon, belonging to Swire Pacific Offshore, which participated in the Brulpadda programme.