PetroSA for help
PetroSA’s Mossel Bay refinery is running out of feedstock to keep the company commercially viable and if these are not replenished by 2014 the refinery, which is responsible for supplying 5 percent of the country’s fuel, will shut down.
Dipuo Peters, the Minister of Energy, departed for Mozambique on Thursday with the department’s deputy director-general of hydrocarbons and energy planning, Tseliso Maqubela, in a bid to request bilateral co-operation in the field of hydrocarbons and to ask for more gas to supply PetroSA’s gas to liquid plant.
Thabo Mabaso, the communications manager at PetroSA, said a resolution had been taken to find more feedstock as the company’s supply was slowly depleting.
He said the current feedstock would only last until 2014. If more feedstock was not found the refinery in Mossel Bay would shut down, and that was not an option, he said.
The company produces 36 000 barrels a day and supplies gas to BP, Shell, Sasol and other fuel markets in parts of the Northern Cape, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and southern Cape. The company pumped gas off the coast of Mossel Bay and the current quantities were not enough for it to be commercially viable, explained Mabaso.
The company’s 2010 annual report shows that year-on-year feedstock production declined by 17.6 percent from 8.87 million barrels in 2008/09 to 7.31 million barrels in 2009/10, while the gas-to-liquids (GTL) refinery output declined by 28.8 percent to 5.3 million barrels in 2009/10.
The report also explained that the lower production for 2010 compared with 2009 was largely due to a shutdown outage, post-shutdown operational challenges and reservoir depletion of gas-producing fields.
The company also experienced various operational challenges with the GTL refinery air compressor downtime that occurred in May 2009. This resulted in reduced production output of 0.28 million barrels and post shutdown commissioning.
Operational instabilities had caused a drastic reduction of 1.1 million barrels in production outputs.
The report also projected an oxygen shortage and a reduced production of 0.21 million barrels due to extensive damage to the top section of the internal vessel of the air separation unit, as well as 0.139 million barrels in production losses that were attributed to propane reforming, an act necessitated by lower market demand, brought about by economic decline, said the report.
Maqubela said the trip to Mozambique sought to establish opportunities for PetroSA to discuss technical issues with Mozambique’s Energy Department. The role of the department was to facilitate talks and the outcome would see a follow-up visit by the national oil and gas company, added Maqubela.
“PetroSA will discuss what is possible and what is not possible, there is nothing stopping gas from coming to South Africa because Sasol also supplies gas from Mozambique,” he said.
Maqubela said there were plans in place to ensure that PetroSA acquired the gas it needed and that if the worst case scenario struck in 2014, it meant that South Africa would have to import gas. - Ayanda Mdluli