An aerial view of the Island View chemical storage facility in the Durban harbour, where the Vopak Terminal Durban (bottom left) is located. Picture: Mercury Archives
JOHANNESBURG - Vopak Terminal Durban, a division of Royal Vopak, the world’s leading independent tank storage company, has awarded multinational engineering and construction firm Fluor Corporation an engineering, procurement and construction management contract for the Vopak Growth 4 Project in Durban.

Vopak said it wanted to increase storage capacity for petroleum and chemical products at its Farewell and King sites in Durban. Vopak specialises in the storage and handling of liquefied gases, chemicals and oil products.

It said the expansion project was part of its programme to facilitate the increased demand for fuel with cleaner specifications in southern Africa by increasing the capacity of fuel storage at its Durban terminal. South Africa is a net importer of finished petroleum products.

The two companies did not disclosed the value of the contract.

“This is one of Vopak’s largest storage facility projects in South Africa and the largest storage project undertaken by Fluor in Africa,” said Al Collins, president of Fluor’s Energy & Chemicals business in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Fluor said it would tap into its global networks to competitively source material and equipment that cannot be sourced locally.

Alejandro Escalona, general manager of Fluor in sub-Saharan Africa, said: “Fluor is successfully using Zero Base Execution all over the world to reduce the cost of facilities while improving schedule certainty by aligning the design and execution principles, project drivers and economic needs before design work begins.”

Royal Vopak and its partner Reatile earlier this year announced plans to expand their activities in South Africa. This was meant to enhance Vopak’s infrastructure to help meet South Africa’s increasing demand for petroleum products.

In addition to the expansion of the Vopak Terminal in Durban, Vopak wants to build a new inland terminal in Gauteng that will be connected to the Vopak Terminal Durban via the Transnet multiproduct pipeline.

South Africa’s increasing reliance on imported petroleum products has prompted the government to consider building a new refinery that will not only supply products to South Africa but to the rest of Southern Africa.

Former Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi earlier this year said the country was ready to build a new refinery.

“This high dependence on import of finished product by a major economy like ours, located at the southernmost tip of the continent is not in the interest of energy security and does not advance local industrialisation.”