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Carbon black project at Coega enters final stretch

Home Infrastructure Oil & Gas Carbon black project at Coega enters final stretch

THE Orion Engineered Carbons Oil Tank Farm Project at Coega which includes two 18,000 m3 tanks for the storage of carbon black feedstock oil used in the manufacturing of tyres amongst other high-performance applications, was visited by a government delegation in mid-April.

The visit by the Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic), Fikile Majola, and the Eastern Cape MEC for Finance, Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Mlungisi Mvoko, was to assess the progress and readiness of the Orion Engineered Carbons (OEC) Tank Farm Project.

Each tank comprises 80 shell plates, totalling 19,2 metres in height and weighing 289 tons per tank. A 5,4 km pipeline from the Coega harbour to the new storage facility was constructed to facilitate the transportation of heavy fuel oil from cargo vessels docked in the Port of Ngqura. An oil ship carrying 26,000 tons of black oil, equivalent to 26 million litres, arrived at the Port of Port Elizabeth last week, before proceeding to the Port of Ngqura for the hot commissioning of the OEC Tank Farm Project.

The OEC heavy fuel oil storage facility is nearing operationalisation. Because of OEC’s strategic position in the value chain, the project’s progress since its sod-turning on 22 April 2022, was closely inspected by Majola and Mvoko who were reported to be impressed by the progress that has been made so far.

Majola said: “The project is very critical in the automotive sector since OEC plays a vital role in the value chain.” That is why it was important for the dtic to fund the project to the value of approximately R272 million. To date, 267 jobs have been created since construction started.

“The choice to move the OEC tanks and activities to the Coega SEZ precinct makes it abundantly evident how important SEZs are to the development of global value chains, especially in the manufacturing and automotive industries. The SEZ Programme is still a crucial component of the South African government’s efforts to draw in strategic direct investments that could provide the economy the boost it needs to resume sustained growth and development,” said Majola.

These state-of-the-art OEC tanks were specifically designed to store carbon black feedstock oil, which is a crucial ingredient in the production of tyres and various high-performance applications. “Once operational, the OEC Oil Tank Farm Project will stimulate the entire value chain of the automotive sector,” said Coega programme manager, Maria van Zyl. OEC is a leading worldwide supplier of carbon black, which is a material with many industrial applications including the production of rubber tyres, inks, dyes, coatings, batteries, plastics, paints, and other applications. OEC imports raw materials from the US, conducts high-value manufacturing in Nelson Mandela Bay, and exports high-grade carbon black.

Nomfundo Faltein, OEC managing director, expressed the company’s appreciation for the project’s progress and support from stakeholders involved. “On behalf of Orion, we would like to thank Coega through the support of the dtic and everyone involved in this project. The continued existence of Orion in South Africa supplying the rubber industries with carbon black, as well as maintaining the jobs in the supply chain, depend on this project,” said Faltein.

Furthermore, the visit by Majola also provided an opportunity to showcase the Coega Aquaculture Development Zone (ADZ) in Zone 10, which received a substantial investment of R206 million from the Eastern Cape Provincial Economic Stimulus Fund for the development of enabling infrastructure, including road networks, stormwater and water reticulation systems, and electrical networks. As a result, the Coega ADZ has become an extremely attractive investment location for potential stakeholders.

Mvoko expressed his satisfaction with the development of both the OEC Tank Farm and the ADZ: “The ADZ infrastructure development was completed within budget and now the site is ready. Furthermore, when the dtic assisted with the OEC Project, we were thankful. We are hopeful that the OEC Project will live up to the gesture made by the dtic.”

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