BP’s R5bn investment a sign of confidence in SA
Cape Town – Petroleum giant BP’s announcement this week that it would invest over R5 billion in southern Africa – with most of it in South Africa – is a “statement of confidence” in the country, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said on Thursday.
“It reconfirms the commitment of a major investor in our country and we are also happy that in the course of normal business they are making a contribution towards our skills development programme, in education, so they are an important corporate citizen of South Africa,” said Motlanthe.
While meeting with Motlanthe, the company’s group managing director and chief executive of refining and marketing, Iain Conn, said part of the reason for the confidence in this investment was the National Development Plan and its direction. The plan sought to reduce inequality and eliminate poverty by 2030.
About half of the investment would be spent on upgrading and modernising Durban’s Sapref refinery, a joint venture with Shell, while the rest would go to the building and upgrading of terminals and the opening of 120 Pick ‘n Pay Express stores over the next five years at BP petrol stations.
The investment would also ensure the petroleum giant’s ongoing support for black businesses through its local procurement initiative as well as the support for skills programmes, which include high school enrichment and artisans to PhD support.
The refinery upgrade is primarily to comply with South Africa’s proposed clean fuels requirements, following the announcement by the Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan in February of a support mechanism for biofuels and the upgrade of refineries to encourage the country to produce cleaner fuels.
Conn said BP was “very proud to be part of South Africa’s future” and pointed out that the investments in South Africa and Mozambique would improve the reliability of refinery infrastructure, ensure security of terminals and depots, while improving the size of its retail network which would add about 2 000 jobs over the next five years.