Construction of an offshore supply base in the Port of Saldanha Bay, South Africa is expected to start in the fourth quarter of 2020. This is after a series of lease agreements were completed between the three key stakeholders. The supply base dubbed “Saldanha Offshore Support Base (SOSB)” is expected to focus on providing specialist and generalist services for the oil and gas industry, and the maritime traffic off South Africa’s western coast.
Saldehco a privately owned South African company was awarded the tender to operate the facility through the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) in August 2017, then a facility operator agreement was signed between the two entities in April 2018. Meanwhile, the TNPA signed a lease agreement with operators of the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone (SBIDZ).
Enabler in Southern African maritime waters
Currently, Saldehco has sub-leased 20ha from SBIDZ, completing the process required for additional port-side land for the SOSB within a custom controlled area. According to Sophie Masipa, chairperson of Saldehco, through these agreements, Saldehco has completed the three-way relationship, positioning the base as an enabler in the southern African maritime waters, strengthening South Africa’s ocean’s economy, and placing the country as a key maritime hub on the continent. “TNPA is the concession owner and grants Saldehco the right to operate its facility within the port of Saldanha. SBIDZ has allowed the facility to operate within a pre-customs territory to facilitate the activity of the SOSB,” she said.
Eventually, upon completion of design development and necessary statutory approvals, this will pave the way for providing marine services to vessels within the port and South African waters as well as clients requiring a logistics base for their offshore activities and fleet support. Saldehco’s key focus area, apart from its operational services, will include skills development programmes for the Saldanha Bay area, creation of jobs via enterprise development, and small and medium-sized enterprise incubators.
Ms. Masipa further added that the prospects for the oil and gas industry are also improving along the west coast, with proven gas reserves and recent exciting finds. “The commencement date of limited offshore support services at the premises will be announced in due course,” she confirmed.
Since its discovery in 1601, the bay and natural harbour of Saldanha, situated on the west coast of South Africa, 155km northwest of Cape Town, remains the largest and deepest natural port in the southern hemisphere; capable of accommodating vessels with a draught of up to 21.5m.