Johannesburg - South Africa’s biggest single buoy mooring (SBM), which carries about 75 percent of the country’s imported crude oil to oil refineries, would have to make way for the proposed new dig-out port in Durban, Transnet said yesterday.
The offshore mooring point for tankers would have to be moved because it was located at the entrance of the proposed new port, the parastatal said.
The relocation of the SBM would be one of the biggest “projects within a project” of the dig-out port, which is due to be completed by 2040. Transnet has described the construction of the new port as one of the biggest and most technical projects it has ever undertaken.
The new port was expected to bolster gross domestic product by R29 billion once operational, with a chance of reducing local joblessness by between 5 percent and 7 percent, it said.
The construction of the port is being driven by expected growth in cargo demand and the evolving needs of the shipping industry. At present, the Durban container terminal handles about 2.7 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of cargo a year. This volume is expected to rise to about 12 million TEUs by 2040.
Marc Descoins, the programme director for the dig-out port, said the relocation of the SBM would be one of the most challenging tasks, particularly because this was a national key point, adding that it would also come with some strong legal challenges. He said Transnet was engaging with the oil refineries, which had already indicated that the security of supply was not negotiable.
“This point has been driven home to us by oil companies, the Department of Energy and the National Energy Regulator and everyone involved,” he said.
He said the prefeasibility phase for moving the SBM had been completed and Transnet expected the environmental authorisation for its relocation to be completed by the end of next year.
“SBM is a critical project, because before we start building the breakwater for the port, we have to have moved the SBM. We need to have it relocated by 2017.”
On the overall progress on the dig-out port, Descoins said three viable concept designs, out of 21 considered, had been approved for the new port. This would be followed by the prefeasibility phase. Descoins said critical milestones, including the first phase of land-side geotechnical work and the first round of stakeholder engagements, had been completed.
He added that site contamination assessments had also been undertaken this year, together with a comprehensive biodiversity survey.
The state-owned enterprise, which plans to source private funding for the project, said yesterday that it had received positive feedback from investors around the globe.
Descoins said international investors were very keen on the project. “The response from various investors has been very positive. It is clear that there is an appetite to invest in such a project.”
Transnet is also in the process of acquiring more land for the construction of the new port after the company took ownership of the old Durban International Airport site from Airports Company South Africa, valued at R1.85 billion, last year.
Descoins said there were plans to acquire more land from private businesses in the area. Other land would be acquired from the Department of Public Works and the eThekwini municipality. “Some land acquisitions have been easy and some have been met with some resistance. Our last resort would be to expropriate the land.”
Descoins said the expropriation option would be last on the list and only used when all options had been exhausted. - Business Report