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New offshore bunker operators poised to take up position

New offshore bunker operators poised to take up position

Bunker stakeholder roundtable highlights concerns

SOUTH AFRICA: After a full day of presentations and debates around the need to re-establish South Africa as a viable location for offshore ship-to-ship bunker services, an almost flippant remark by the Acting CEO of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in his short closing address intimated that there is at least one new offshore bunker operator ready to open shop.

Speaking at the end of today’s SAMSA Bunker Sector Roundtable in Durban, Tau Morwe hinted further that operations could resume in as little as two weeks.

“By next week or in the coming week there is a company that will most probably continue doing business.”

“By next week or in the coming week there is a company that will most probably continue doing business,” he told attendees without providing any real details. Delivered as part of his closing remarks, there was no opportunity to press him further.

Morwe also revealed that another application was close to being finalised and emphasised that “there is nothing that is preventing anyone from conducting operations”. Despite the input from stakeholders over the course of the day, Morwe noted that operators simply need to comply with Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and the South African Revenue Services (SARS) requirements to mobilise their vessels and begin bunker services.

It should be noted, however, that discussions during the day did highlight the uncertainty around SARS requirements as well as the current process to amend the regulations that ultimately stopped previous operations in Algoa Bay.

Some concern also exists over the differing requirements that are in place across the TNPA governed ports. According to input from stakeholders, there is no uniformity in place.

While industry is likely to welcome the return of an offshore bunkering station, today’s engagement highlighted the reputational damage that resulted from the September 2023 closure of the Algoa Bay operations.

If and when the service becomes operational, it will take some effort from government to help the industry market the South African maritime brand and dispel fears of similar incidents in the future.

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