The International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) has called on the South African government to realise the potential of the ship refuelling market in its ports and the impact this will have in supporting regeneration.
Speaking at the recent African Ports Evolution conference in Cape Town, IBIA chief executive Peter Hall told delegates that whilst more than double the number of vessels move around the Cape of Good Hope than transit the Straits of Gibraltar, the South African bunkering market has declined whilst Gibraltar’s continues to grow.
Last year around 600 ships a day moved around South Africa, whilst the volume of bunkers sold in Durban hit a twenty year low with 1.1m tonnes traded in 2012. 2013 sales volumes look set to decline further as the area struggles with current market forces.
IBIA has advised the country to open its bunker market to an open economy system; produce fuel in line with global carbon and sulphur restrictions; adjust its fuel pricing structure to be competitive against South American and Asian port options and create safe offshore refuelling areas.
Partnering with neighbouring countries for crude cargo purchasing and keeping its port tariffs relevant and competitive can also revitalise an industry on the verge of collapse. IBIA believes that these steps would help stem the decline in South African bunker fuel sales. It says the South African government should closely examine the potential impact of a successful bunkering sector on the country’s GDP and develop a strategy in partnership with industry stakeholders, including the oil majors who own the current aging infrastructure.
IBIA say they have approached Professor Trevor Jones of the University of Kwa Zulu Natal, Marine Studies to undertake a study of the impact that the loss of bunker fuel sales has on the economy of Southern Africa.