Richards Bay port to play role in Transnet’s natural gas strategy
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THE PORT of Richards Bay has been identified as one of three ports to support Transnet’s natural gas strategy, which seeks to provide storage and import facilities for South Africa’s growing natural gas sector.
In the short-to-medium term, the port will support the liquefied natural gas (LNG) power generation facilities and in the longer-term, LNG import facilities.
Portia Derby, the chief executive of state-owned rail, port and pipeline company Transnet, led a stakeholder engagement session on Friday where she shared the plan for the port of Richards Bay with the local government, business community and traditional leadership within Umhlathuze and the surrounding areas.
The port of Richards Bay, which lies 160km north of the port of Durban and 46km south of the port of Maputo in Mozambique, is a strategic industrial port, responsible for exporting commodities such as coal, chrome and magnetite.
Transnet said it planned to relocate its liquid bulk operations from the Port of Durban to the Port of Richards Bay to support the former’s transformation into a regional water container hub port.
Ayanda Shezi, Transnet’s spokesperson, said, “The port of Richards Bay is already well-equipped and located to take advantage of the migrated volumes. Liquid bulk lease sites and berths have already been identified in the South Dune precinct in the port for the relocation of the liquid bulk terminal.”
For coal exports, Richards Bay remained the primary coal export channel in South Africa. Transnet also said it aimed to maintain export coal targets as it worked to realise its carbon neutral targets over time.
Transnet planned to increase capacity for the handling of chrome ore and magnetite in the Port of Richards Bay as it remained the primary port of export for these commodities and was complemented by the port of Maputo as a secondary export channel.
Transnet said it would continue to engage with stakeholders for the growth and development of Richards Bay and its local communities.
In addition to normal port activities and operations, the port has a key role in the economy of the uMhlathuze Municipality, embracing the towns of Empangeni and Richards Bay, with its growing industrial base.
The port enjoys a strategic relationship with the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone, which is situated in close proximity to the port, a prime industrial business and trade hub, attracting export-orientated investors as one of the leading Special Economic Zones.
Regarding LNG initiatives, Department of Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantshe said in his recent budget vote they were committed to developing the gas industry into the local economy. Mantashe said an environmental impact assessment study had been done for three gas-to-power plants of 1000 megawatts each to enable gas to power projects in Special Economic Zones.
The request for proposals would be issued in the third quarter of the 2021/22 financial year. An estimated total capital investment for 15 projects currently under construction, as licensed by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa, is R8.9 billion. From these projects, at least four of them with a value of R6.3 billion were expected to be completed by the end of this year.
Developments of regional gas-fields would lead to natural gas becoming a more important fuel in South Africa. Due to the availability of natural gas in neighbouring countries, such as Mozambique and Namibia, and the discovery of offshore gas reserves in South Africa, this was likely to lead to the gas industry in South Africa undergoing rapid expansion.
In addition to coal, gas and LPG, South Africa produces about 930 000 tons of natural gas and 104 860 tons of associated condensate.