Saudi Arabia in talks to build refinery, petrochemicals plant in South Africa

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih speaks during a news conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia January 9, 2019. (File Photo/Reuters)
Updated 18 January 2019

Saudi Arabia in talks to build refinery, petrochemicals plant in South Africa

  • Saudi Arabia is in talks to build an oil refinery and a petrochemicals plant in South Africa as part of $10 billion of investments in the country
  • Saudi oil would be used in the planned refinery whose construction would be led by Saudi Aramco

PRETORIA: Saudi Arabia plans to build an oil refinery and petrochemicals plant in South Africa as part of $10 billion of investments in the country, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said on Friday after talks with his South African counterpart.
The announcement is a much-needed vote of confidence in Africa’s most industrialized economy, where President Cyril Ramaphosa is trying to attract $100 billion of new investments to rekindle growth.
The new refinery would reduce the need for refined product imports and cement Saudi Arabia’s dominant position in South Africa’s oil sector. The Kingdom already supplies 40 percent of the crude oil consumed in South Africa.
“Saudi Aramco and South Africa’s Central Energy Fund are moving forward with the feasibility study and identifying the parameters of the project,” Falih told reporters in Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative capital.
South African Energy Minister Jeff Radebe said a location for the refinery and petrochemicals plant would be finalized in the coming weeks. The capacity for the refinery is yet to be determined.
South Africa has talked about building an extra refinery for a decade, but it has struggled to agree commercial terms with investors.
It has six refineries, four using crude oil and two synthetic fuel as feedstock. Royal Dutch Shell, BP , Total and Sasol are among major refinery operators.
Al-Falih said Saudi Arabia had held discussions with Ramaphosa’s predecessor, Jacob Zuma, about building a refinery in South Africa but the proposed location was not attractive.
The two governments are now considering Richard’s Bay in KwaZulu-Natal province, home to South Africa’s major coal export terminal, among potential locations for the refinery.
State oil giant Saudi Aramco is also studying whether to use South African oil storage facilities in Saldanha Bay, while Saudi power firm Acwa Power is looking at investing in South Africa’s revamped renewable energy program.
Al-Falih confirmed there were discussions about the kingdom investing in South African state defense company Denel, as exclusively reported by Reuters in November.


Qantas Airways profits lower after oil prices rise

Updated 7 min 49 sec ago

Qantas Airways profits lower after oil prices rise

  • The 99-year-old airline was hit by an Aus$614 million fuel bill increase and Aus$154 million in foreign exchange impacts

SYDNEY: Qantas Airways posted a 6.5-percent fall in annual net profit Thursday, attributing the slide in earnings to higher oil prices and a weaker Australian dollar.
Despite record revenues, the Australian flag carrier said its after-tax profit fell to Aus$891 million ($604 million), down from Aus$953 million the previous year.
The 99-year-old airline was hit by an Aus$614 million fuel bill increase and Aus$154 million in foreign exchange impacts.
But Qantas CEO Alan Joyce was upbeat about the results, which came on the back of healthy profits the previous year.
“Even with headwinds like fuel costs and foreign exchange, we remain one of the best-performing airline groups in the world,” he said.
In the 12 months to June 30, underlying profit before tax — the airline’s preferred measure that strips out one-off costs — was down 17 percent at Aus$1.3 billion.
Qantas declared a final dividend of 13 cents per share and announced an off-market buyback of up to 79.7 million shares.
It will also hand its workers travel bonuses worth Aus$32 million.
Joyce said the outlook for the airline was “mixed,” with weakness in the domestic tourism market and flat corporate travel demand.
Nevertheless, he said the airline was “confident” about the year ahead due in large part to being in a “strong financial position.”