[dropcap]C[/dropcap]onstruction of South Africa’s first planned offshore supply base is expected to start in the fourth quarter of 2020, after a series of lease agreements were completed between the three key stakeholders.
Located in the port of Saldanha Bay, the Saldanha Offshore Support Base (SOSB) will focus on providing specialist and generalist services for both the oil and gas industry, and the maritime traffic off South Africa’s western coast.
The tender to operate the facility was awarded to Saldehco, a privately owned South African company, through the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) in August 2017, and a facility operator agreement was signed between the two parties in April 2018.
In the meantime, TNPA signed a lease agreement with operators of the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone (SBIDZ). Now Saldehco has sub-leased 20-hectares from the SBIDZ, completing the process required for additional port side land for the SOSB within a custom controlled area.
“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,” says Sophie Masipa, chairperson of Saldehco.
Ultimately, 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, she says.
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 size enterprise incubators.
“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,” Masipa says
Situated on the west coast of South Africa, 155 km northwest of Cape Town, the Bay and natural harbour of Saldanha, since its discovery in 1601, remains the largest and deepest natural port in the southern hemisphere; capable of accommodating vessels with a draught of up to 21.5 m.