Plans to kickstart a R15bn oil refining and petrochemicals hub in Coega in the Eastern Cape have been met with mixed interest, surprise and scepticism from industry experts. The need for greater energy security has made increased oil-refining capacity a long-standing ambition of the government, but for more than a decade now, its mooted 300,000 barrel per day (bpd) Coega refinery, Mthombo, has failed to get off the ground. Then, in October, black-owned company Mestosync Energy announced a plan to build a 400,000 bpd industrial complex in the Coega special economic zone. The company has been issued a manufacturing licence in terms of the Petroleum Products Act and has said it will conclude financial negotiations by the end of November. Bheki Gila, executive chair of Rand & Bullion, transaction advisers for the deal, said the refinery will end SA’s growing reliance on fuel imports. “Whenever you take the energy security of a country and mortgage it to some other guy and you have no ab...

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