5 November 2007
German manufacturing company MAN Ferrostaal has launched South Africa’s first fabrication yard for oil and gas platforms at Saldanha Bay near Cape Town, positioning the country to take advantage of booming energy operations along Africa’s west coast.
A company statement issued this week reveals that the investment is worth approximately €30-million (approximately R284-million) and forms part of a R1.7-billion investment pledged by the company into the South African oil and gas operations.
This commitment is part of an offset deal brokered between the South African government and the company, which has built three new U-206 submarines for the SA Navy.
At the official opening of the yard on Tuesday, MAN Ferrostaal chief executive Matthias Mitscherlich emphasised the great local added value in realising the project.
“Three-quarters of all firms commissioned were South African companies and half of all expenditure went to companies which promote the interests of South Africa’s black population,” Mitscherlich said.
Over 900 people from the Western Cape Region were involved in the nine-month construction period, with nearly all material used in the construction of the yard coming from South Africa.
Saldanha Bay, situated about 60 nautical miles north-west of Cape Town, is the deepest and largest natural port in southern Africa, and it is intended that the platform fabrication yard will meet the increasing demand for production platforms triggered by the growing west African oil and gas industry.
Complete offshore platforms, as well as components for offshore platforms such as bridges, outriggers, decks, mantles and submarine infrastructure, will be constructed at the 220 000 square metre complex.
Until now, offshore oil and gas platforms used in west Africa have been manufactured solely in Europe, the Middle East, the US and south-east Asia, and capacity constraints meant lead times of up to seven years. The new production site at Saldanha Bay will reduce lead times and towing times for platforms to a fraction of the time currently required.
MAN Ferrostaal believes that the sharp increase in oil prices will lead to increased demand for production platforms, and is currently in talks to construct a second site for the repair and maintenance of oil platforms in Cape Town.
Both projects are of great social importance for South Africa, in addition to their economic significance, as they will lead to the creation of approximately 12 000 new jobs.
“Due to the very positive feedback from the international oil industry, a capacity increase is already being planned for the complex in Saldanha Bay,” MAN Ferrostaal said.