Oil & Gas

21 Jul 2021

Sapref to Restart Durban Refinery

21 Jul 2021  by   

BP and Shell's South African joint venture Sapref will restart its 180,000 b/d Durban refinery tomorrow after a temporary shutdown last week in response to civil unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and other parts of the country.

Sapref said today that it will restart the plant on 21 July and that the start-up process will take 7-10 days to complete.

"With key delivery routes open and materials supply secured, Sapref can now restart the refinery," it said.

State-owned logistics operator Transnet said today that the ports of Durban and Richards Bay have resumed normal operations after the reopening of key national roads, the N2 and N3, allowed the resumption of truck deliveries and the restoration of supply chains.

Sapref decided to shut the refinery when key materials to run the facility could not be delivered due to supply chain disruptions caused by civil unrest sparked by former South African president Jacob Zuma's imprisonment on 7 July.

The protests and rioting started in Zuma's home province of KwaZulu-Natal and then spread to other regions including the country's economic hub, Gauteng.

Key transport routes were blocked by protesters, disrupting the movement of goods from Durban and Richards Bay ports. More than 2,200 people were arrested after shops were ransacked and facilities set on fire. Nearly 120 people died in the unrest.

The refinery's restart will assuage concerns that South Africa might be facing fuel shortages, given that Sasol and Total's 107,000 b/d Natref refinery in Sasolburg and Sasol's 160,000 b/d coal-to-liquids plant at Secunda are the only other refineries still operational in the country.

Engen announced in April that it will permanently shut its 105,000 b/d Durban refinery, which has been halted since an explosion and fire in December, and convert it into an import terminal. Astron Energy's 110,000 b/d Cape Town refinery will restart sometime next year, two years after it was shut because of a fire in July 2020.

The Sapref plant produces a full range of fuels, including gasoline, diesel and marine fuel for the Durban port, as well as bitumen, base oils and paraffin waxes.

More News