SA’s LPG supply plans take a giant leap forward

The massive LPG bullet tanks enter the Port of Richards Bay. Source: TNPA

The Port of Richards Bay has welcomed the arrival of four new 5 650-ton liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) storage bullets as part of a larger Transnet National Port Authority (TNPA) plan to provide a “cost effective, reliable and safe supply of LPG to South Africa”.

Arriving on the vessel, XIN LU, the bullets will be used in a R1 billion, 22 600-ton capacity LPG facility which is being developed at the port by Bidvest Tank Terminals (BTT), a unit of the Bidvest Group.

The terminal will store LPG on behalf of independent LPG specialist Petredec, which ships the fuel from the US and the Middle East.

Construction began in October 2018 and the facility is expected to become operational in 2020, housing the largest storage tanks in the world, according to a TNPA spokesperson.

“The arrival of these bullets is an exciting milestone not only for the Port of Richards Bay but for the future of LPG supply in South Africa,” said Richards Bay port manager, Thami Sithole.

He highlighted that the storage facility would enable the Port of Richards Bay to cater for ships that trade, transport, store and distribute LPG.

“In the past, vessels would have frequently been forced to remain on layby outside our port for weeks and months, while incurring costs,” said Sithole.

The Richards Bay port is on Petredec’s shipping route and in close proximity to the main rail and road logistics routes going inland, particularly as most of the LPG will be used in Gauteng, the Free State and the North West.

TNPA has said it intends using the ports as vehicles not only for storage and distribution, but also for access and transformation to ensure the sustainability of the country’s Energy sector.

Transnet is also planning a multi-million dollar liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage and regasification terminal at the Port of Richards Bay and is looking for private sector partners to invest in and operate the facility.

The state-owned company recently signed a cost-sharing agreement for a feasibility study with the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), which has committed US$2 million to the study.

The Richards Bay Natural Gas Network (NGN) project will complement the delivery of LNG to new markets in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape provinces through the ports of Ngqura and Saldanha Bay respectively.

Meanwhile, at the Port of Ngqura, TNPA is establishing an additional petroleum trading hub for Southern Africa through a new liquid bulk terminal being developed by Oil Tanking Grindrod Calulo (OTGC).

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