11 October 2010
State company Transnet is busy building a multi-product pipeline between Johannesburg and Durban – the largest of its kind in the world – to ensure the security of South Africa’s fuel supply while easing congestion on one of Africa’s busiest road corridors.
The pipeline, the single biggest project in Transnet’s R93-billion five-year capital expenditure programme, is expected to be ready for operation by December 2013.
It will replace the existing Durban to Johannesburg pipeline, which is both nearing the end of its lifespan and is unable to cater for increased capacity.
Once fully operational, Transnet says, the pipeline will reduce the number of fuel tankers on the road by at least 60%, thereby reducing road maintenance costs and easing congestion on the Joburg-Durban route.
Multi-product pipelines are the safest, most cost-effective and efficient means of moving petroleum products.
Complex, unique project
The National Energy Regulator of South Africa awarded Transnet the licence to build the pipeline, including a 16 inch inland network and two terminals, in December 2007.
The company has requested an amendment to its construction licence to allow for timeline changes, as the original completion date was set for December 2012.
The relocation of the construction of coastal terminals from the old Durban International Airport to Island View in the Port of Durban, and some delays in obtaining required statutory approvals, were cited as the main reason for schedule variations.
The move to Island View resulted in an 11km increase in the length of the pipeline, affecting the hydraulics and requiring a change of design.
“Such revisions are common in projects of this complexity, uniqueness and size,” said Transnet acting CEO Chris Wells. “The [pipeline], whose construction is about 33% complete, is the largest multi-product pipeline in the world and will have a lifespan of over 70 years.”