Economic boost for Saldanha Bay

A R9.65-billion investment in infrastructure projects at Saldanha Bay, on South Africa’s West Coast, was announced by the Transnet National Ports Authority on Monday.

(Image: Saldanha Bay Municipality)

Brand South Africa reporter

These are aimed at enhancing the deep-water port’s ability to service the offshore oil and gas industry.

TNPA, a division of state-owned entity Transnet, is mandated to control and manage all eight commercial ports on South Africa’s 2 954km of coastline.

The project falls under the government’s “blue economy” plans of its Operation Phakisa initiative, announced by President Jacob Zuma in 2014. The aim of the project is to clear infrastructure bottlenecks that may be constraining economic growth.

The 330ha Saldanha Bay industrial development zone was designated in 2013 as a zone dedicated to serving the oil and gas industry. It has attracted strong interest, mainly from fabricators.

Saldanha Bay supports the export of the iron-ore mined in the Northern Cape province, which currently stands at around 57-million tons a year.

Willem Roux, Saldanha Bay port manager, told a press conference on Monday that the TNPA sees an opportunity in serving the oil rigs operating on the west and east coasts of Africa, Business Day reported.

Roux said about 120 rigs passed South Africa’s coast every year.

“We know if we do not use this opportunity now to capture this market, other ports in the southern hemisphere will gear themselves to capture it,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.

The TNPA has issued tenders to invite public-private sector participation in the projects. According to Business Day, these include:

  • the construction of a new rig repair quay, 380m long and 21m deep, to serve modern rigs that require extra depth. The quay will be able to serve two rigs simultaneously;
  • lengthening of the Mossgas quay from 38m to 500m, with a depth of 8.5m. This will allow it to accommodate floating docks;
  • building of an offshore supply base which will serve as a one-stop shop to supply oil rigs with services such as food, materials and waste collection.

The TNPA said the projects would create an estimated 6 300 new direct jobs and 25 200 new indirect jobs, contributing an estimated R4.74-billion to South Africa’s gross domestic product. The project is due to be completed by January 2018.

About Saldanha

Situated on the West Coast of South Africa about 60 nautical miles north-west of Cape Town, the Port of Saldanha, since its “discovery” in the year 1601, remains the largest and deepest natural port in the Southern Hemisphere able to accommodate vessels with a draft of up to 21.5 meters.

The port covers a land and sea surface of just over 19 300ha within a circumference of 91km with maximum water depths of 23.7 meters.

Saldanha has a purpose-built rail link directly connected to a jetty bulk-loading facility for the shipment of iron ore.

Source: TNPA – Saldanha Bay

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