German firm pledges R1,7bn SA investment

A German manufacturing company has invested about R284-million in South Africa’s first fabrication yard for oil and gas platforms as part of a R1,7-billion investment pledge, government news agency BuaNews reported on Monday.

MAN Ferrostaal has opened the 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.

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 South African Navy.

The company said at the official opening of the yard last week that three-quarters of the companies used for the building and equipping of the yard were South African, and half of all expenditure went to companies that promoted the interests of South Africa’s black population.

Nearly all the material used in the construction of the yard came from South Africa.

Complete offshore platforms — as well as components for offshore platforms such as bridges, outriggers, decks, mantles and submarine infrastructure — will be constructed at the yard, which aims to meet the increasing demand for production platforms triggered by the growing West African oil and gas industry.

Until now, offshore oil and gas platforms used in West Africa have been manufactured solely in Europe, the Middle East, the United States and South-East Asia, and capacity constraints meant lead times of up to seven years.

MAN Ferrostaal said the sharp increase in oil prices should lead to increased demand for production platforms, and the company is currently in talks to construct a second site for the repair and maintenance of oil platforms in Cape Town.

Both projects will contribute to the creation of about 12 000 new jobs. — I-Net Bridge

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