Western Cape is eyeing oil-boom billions

Mar 28, 2004 01:00 AM

The Western Cape is gearing itself to earn billions of rands in foreign exchange through the servicing of the booming oil industry on the west coast of Africa. The provincial government has launched an investigation into developing an industrial development zone around Saldanha to attract industry to the area. Such a zone would offer major tax benefits to attract industry.
Once the infrastructure is in place, Saldanha will be able to service ships and oil platforms from oil-producing countries to the north such as Angola, Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria.

While some of this work is already done in Cape Town, the harbour does not have enough space to deal with huge platforms and ships. Ebrahim Rasool, Western Cape provincial finance and economic development minister, visited Saldanha recently to assess the development potential of the area. Rasool said Cape Town and Saldanha were ideally placed to service the booming oil and gas industry on the west coast of Africa.
Currently more than R 60 bn is spent annually on servicing the industry. Most of the money is spent in countries in Europe and even in the United States but South Africa, and more particularly the Western Cape, is much better placed to supply the same services. The provincial government, local government and industry have now launched a concerted effort to attract major oil and gas companies to these shores in order to service and build oil and gas equipment.

A special delegation will soon leave for Houston, Texas, to market South Africa's expertise and infrastructure to oil exploration companies at an international oil and gas expo. President Thabo Mbeki recently announced that the national government would make available R 35 bn towards infrastructure development throughout the country.
The Western Cape is hoping to get at least R 1,3 bn to spark the development of a comprehensive service and infra structure capability that will enable the province and local industry to tap into the vast amounts spent annually by oil and gasexploration companies.

Herman Jonker, industry development director of the provincial department of economic development, has been tasked by the provincial government with co-ordinating a marketing strategy involving private enterprise, the chamber of commerce and industry and local and provincial government to tap into the growing oil and gas market. He said already all the major players had been incorporated in a Western Cape Oil and Gas Supply Initiative that would help co-ordinate and achieve marketing and service goals.
"Once the word spreads that we can service these contracts and have the facilities and capabilities available we believe we will attract a major part of the billions spent annually in this industry. Of course another spin-off will be major job creation."

As part of the project to improve access to the industries of Cape Town and Saldanha from other African countries, the Western Cape government recently set aside money to upgrade the N7 national road. Currently large cargo aircraft fly out of Angola weekly to stock up on fresh produce and other supplies in European countries. But the same supplies could be transported, by road or by air, from Cape Town.
Rasool said the Western Cape government was deeply serious about achieving its goal to transform the Western Cape, in particular Saldanha and Cape Town, into a major service centre for the oil industry. He said money would be made available to achieve just that.

Source: Independent Online
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