By Thandisizwe Mgudlwa
So it was reported this week that the Western Cape province’s economy is getting stronger by the day while many other regions throughout the world are battling to survive, mostly due to the ongoing global economic crisis.
And the province is fast becoming an example for many regions in Africa and elsewhere that must be follow closely, if there’s any hope for them to quickly recover from years of economic downfall.
The latest research has confirmed that in the last year, the Western Cape province’s Oil and Gas industry created 5800 jobs opportunities and attracted investment worth over R1.2 billion.
As a result of a number of initiatives spearheaded by the Western Cape Government-funded South African Oil and Gas Alliance (SAOGA), the value of investment in the sector is projected to increase to R3 billion per annum resulting in the creation of 7000 job opportunities annually.
And speaking during a visit to Belmet Marine, a diversified steel manufacturer in Belville, Cape Town, Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Alan Winde said: “The Western Cape has all the right features in place to become the oil and gas hub for Africa. This is our firm goal. The sector has enormous potential to contribute to the growth of the Western Cape economy and create job opportunities for the citizens of our Province. It is estimated that for a stay of eight weeks by an oil rig docked at the Port of Cape Town, R200 million is contributed to the Western Cape’s economy and 2000 job opportunities are created for locals. We need to ensure that we have a continuous stream of vessels coming in for repair, and that we grow our capacity to accommodate more. That’s why we have invested in key projects like the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone and the redevelopment of the Port of Cape Town in collaboration with key partners across all spheres.”
“The potential for more Western Cape companies to deliver goods and services into West African oil and gas exploration activities has been recognised as a major strategic opportunity. If fully recognised, this opportunity has the potential to transform the industrial base of Cape Town and Saldanha.
A recent study commissioned by SAOGA indicated that the West African offshore oil and gas market is due to expand strongly between 2009 – 2013, and investment in that period is expected to accumulate to over $150 billion in the MMO (maintenance, modification, operations) market alone. We established SAOGA to support and promote the growth of local industries targeting the substantial opportunities offered by this sector”, Minister Winde continued.
Minister Winde added: “We have concentrated our efforts on supporting high growth, high job creation sectors so that we can maximise sustainable private-sector-led job creation. Oil and Gas is chief amongst these.”
The current medium term focus is on marketing the industry and developing the access of SAOGA member companies to successful export markets and unlocking the growth potential of the ship/rig repair opportunities. In the current financial year, the Western Cape Government, in conjunction with SAOGA will continue working on the following initiatives:
· The establishment of an Oil and Gas Hub at Saldanha Bay
· Promoting an enabling environment for the sector in conjunction with all stakeholders in municipalities, nationally, internationally and in the private sector
· Addressing delays an inefficiencies in the granting of work permit applications for personnel on oil and gas projects
· Improving access for South Africans to neighbouring countries and their oil and gas markets
· Working with the National Ports Authority to ensure that the ship and rig repair sector has adequate and reliable access to necessary port infrastructure
· Artisan training to ensure that appropriate curricula and training capacity is available to meet the skills shortage in the sector
Furthermore, Winde yesterday visited three factories operating in the Western Cape’s Oil and Gas Sector in order to highlight the economic growth and employment creation potential of the sector.
He also visited Belmet Marine – a diversified steel fabricator operating in oil & gas, diamond mining, mineral processing and marine industries; Damen Ship Yards – the builder of ASD Tugs, Stan Tugs, Patrol Vessels, Research Vessels, Modular Barges and Stan Pontoons; and DCD Marine – a provider of turnkey ship repair solutions to the marine and oil & gas sectors across Africa.