Oil industry boost for West Coast

ct Saldanha IDZ IAM_4343 done Armand Hough BOOM TIME: Work on the oile rigs like this one in the Saldanha Bay harbour is set to bring thousands of jobs and millions of rand economic development to the West Coast town. Photo: Armamnd Hough

Cobus Coetzee

Political Writer

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma is set to kick-start the oil and gas sector industry in Saldanha today in an attempt to bring jobs and billions of rand in investment over the next decade to the West Coast.

Officials from the national and provincial governments and the local municipality descended on the town yesterday in anticipation for the official designation of the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone (IDZ).

The government estimates that more than 11 000 direct, indirect and induced job opportunities will be created over the next 25 years and the IDZ will attract R9.3 billion in foreign direct investment.

Zuma’s visit to the town is part of the ANC’s election strategy to show off 50 keyinfrastructure projects the national government has delivered the past term.

DA leader and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille is also expected to attend.

ANC Western Cape elections manager Zou Kota-Fredericks said last month that it was important to show that the IDZ was an ANC national government-led project and not the DA provincial government’s.

Economic Development MEC Alan Winde said this week that the success of the project was because of co-operation between national, provincial and local governments.

Officials working at the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone Licensing Company have echoed Winde’s view but didn’t comment.

The IDZ’s business plan shows that Saldanha Bay could service up to three oil rigs at any given time and would have access to at least 84 rigs out of the up to 100 now active off the western coast of Africa.

The type of repair projects could vary from inspections to major refurbishments and conversions. This could take from days to months and be work to the value of between R10 million and R500m.

The IDZ hopes to finish 11 projects a year and this could bring annual foreign earned revenues of R3bn to Saldanha Bay in five years’ time. The IDZ could service 27.5 percent of the oil rig repair market along the African coast, or 55 percent of the South African industry, with Cape Town and Coega sharing the rest. Nigeria, Angola and Namibia are possible competitors in the market.

The industry has already taken off in Saldanha and Cape Town. Four oil rigs are booked to be serviced between October and December.

Winde said this was expected to create 8 000 job opportunities over a two-month period.

An oil rig named Sedco 702 is expected to arrive on November 13 at Saldanha Bay for several repairs and upgrade of its accommodation. It will be the biggest oil rig yet in the harbour. The arrival has also seen unexpected indirect jobs.

IDZ officials had to phone around in a panic the past couple of weeks, to try to find laundries in town that could wash 500 overalls each day.

Local laundry owner Boetie de Beer said he had many requests in the past to wash overalls for these companies and had to hire extra staff.

Saldanha Black Business Women’s Association chairwoman Paulina Mali said, “I believe it (the IDZ) will change our lives and bring jobs for our young people.”

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