Port of Ngqura. File photo: THE HERALD/FREDLIN ADRIAAN
Port of Ngqura. File photo: THE HERALD/FREDLIN ADRIAAN

 Progress is being made to establish the Port of Ngqura as the new petroleum trading hub for Southern Africa, with the second phase of the project expected to kick off at the beginning of November.

The Port of Ngqura, which was officially opened in 2011 by former president Jacob Zuma, surpassed that of Port Elizabeth as the third busiest container port in the country. 

In a statement published this week, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) said the completion of the first phase  included the development of infrastructure to service the new Oiltanking Grindrod Calulo Holdings (OTGC) Tank Farm site. This included the construction of a new access road from the N2 to where the OTGC Tank Farm will be built as well as the completed design of the new port entrance plaza.

The plaza and the new access road, includes the service pipeline that will form the necessary link between the OTGC Tank Farm and the port.

OTGC is a majority South African-owned level 1 black- empowered BEE joint venture with expertise in international terminal operations.

Rajesh Dana, port manager for Port of Port Elizabeth, said the relocation of the Manganese Ore Terminal from the city to Ngqura was a separate project with separate operators, stakeholders and timelines.

“The Port of PE Manganese Ore Terminal will be decommissioned and remediated once the Manganese Ore Terminal in the Port of Ngqura is commissioned,” Dana said.

Meanwhile, Dana said the Port Elizabeth waterfront development plans were at an advanced stage.

“We envisage that the waterfront development will be undertaken in a phased manner, starting small and then expanding in line with market demand.

“Phase one of the waterfront development will take place on current vacant land and we therefore do not believe that the manganese ore or liquid bulk operations will impede the waterfront development,” Dana said.

He said that according to the Port of PE’s Port Development Plan (Medium Term – 2046) the Liquid Bulk Terminal and Manganese Ore Terminal precincts are earmarked for maritime, commercial and automotive zones respectively.

According to the TNPA, the Port of Ngqura is a strategic location for the tank farm facility as it can accommodate vessels up to 100,000 deadweight tonnage.

“This facility has the potential to establish itself as a global transhipment and trading hub for West and East Africa.

“It will reduce reliance on the Port of Durban for transhipments to coastal ports,” the statement said.

TNPA is expected to invest R1.2bn for common user infrastructure for future terminal operators and port users at the port’s multipurpose terminal.

“The estimated investment by OTGC for phase one of the Port of Ngqura liquid bulk facility will be R800m.”

Following the commissioning of the new OTGC Tank Farm, TNPA said the tank farm operators at the Port of Port Elizabeth will “wind down operations over a period of four months.”

Dana said the “cut-over strategy” will be to ensure the seamless commissioning of the Port of Ngqura Liquid Bulk Terminal, while running down existing stock and operations at the Port of PE Liquid Bulk Terminal (PE Tank Farm).

“During this period it is envisaged that no liquid bulk vessels will call at the Port of PE. The cut-over strategy period will be four months. After the cut over strategy the PE Tank Farm will be decommissioned and remediated,” he said.

The TNPA said the decommissioning and remediation plan would need to be approved by the department of environmental affairs before the four-month “winding down period” can begin.

Following a development period of 24 months, the TNPA said it looked forward to having an operational terminal at the Port of Ngqura by November 1 2020.