October 12, 2023 [Argus]- South African fuel storage firm FFS Refiners expects to commission its new 7,500t capacity bitumen terminal in Durban in December before receiving its first ship to tank cargo in January.
The facility will make it easier for South Africa to absorb burgeoning imports, which at Durban have had to be delivered in ship to truck operations using a gantry system. Importers and local suppliers have at times been unable to accommodate all incoming cargoes moved in bitumen tankers, causing discharge delays and some domestic distress sales of surplus truck volumes.
Bitumen cargo imports have risen dramatically this year because of a lack of domestic production and a buoyant paving season. A current uptick in cargo flows to South Africa, mainly to Durban, will take total imports to the country to around 185,000t by the end of this month, according to Vortexa data, already surpassing the 96,000t imported in 2022. South Africa received no bulk cargo imports in 2019 and 2020, with only around 10,000t imported in 2021 (see graph).
The current import wave includes the first bitumen tanker export shipment from Saudi Aramco’s Red Sea terminal at Yanbu in decades.
Bitumen trading and shipping firm Rubis Asphalt holds the contract to use the new FFS bitumen terminal until 2035, while its contractual arrangement with the firm to use FFS’ existing 4,800t Cape Town bitumen terminal also runs until 2035. Project work on FFS’ second phase of terminal investment in Durban for a total 20,000t of bitumen, base oils and residual fuels capacity is expected to begin in early January 2024, with completion and start of import operations scheduled for the first quarter of 2025.
No agreements have been concluded yet with firms that would use those facilities to bring in their volumes.
12,600 tank storage and production facilities as per the date of this article. Click on the button and register to get instant access to actionable tank storage industry data