This just in, leading engineering company leaves Mossgas Site!
Article written by: HELÉNE MEISSENHEIMER of the Weslander, 2 April 2015.
After investing millions in Saldanha, leading marine engineering firm Dormac has had it with port authorities and is moving off the Mossgas site.
South African based Dormac, a Level 3 BBBEE contributor, came on the local scene a few years ago to perform rig repair services and has consistently been very optimistic about the possibilities of providing rig repair services to the offshore oil and gas industry in the port.
Commenting on Weslander’s queries, their managing director, Chris Sparg, said the company spent well over R16 million on facilities in Saldanha alone. This included starting a training facility for local learners to ensure that the skills base in Saldanha supported the anticipated projected growth. Millions were also spent to promote the destination of Saldanha to the oil and gas international market.
The major spanner in the works was Trans-net Port Terminal’s (TPT) decision last year that quay 204 (at the Multipurpose Terminal), the port’s deep-water quay currently best suited for long-term maintenance projects on large oil rigs, should rather be used for the export and import of general cargo, including the export of manganese.
Sparg says Dormac’s requests to the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and TPT for approval to secure Berth 204 to execute various large long-term projects have been repeatedly declined or when approval was granted, it was only for very short stays, with a concession to allow repairs in the bay. “Such approvals are of little benefit to rig owners, who need to execute these projects alongside a safe and deep berth for the special periodic survey work required. As a result some of these project opportunities have been lost entirely and some have been redirected to the port of Coega, where owners are expected to undertake a further voyage around the Cape from West Africa – making South Africa’s offering internationally less competitive.”
In October last year Dormac applied for approval to operate a floating dock to be berthed at the Mossgas Quay with direct access from their leased premises. Dormac offered to acquire the dock from its own funding and it is estimated the business arising from this dock alone would create 80 permanent engineering jobs.
To date Sparg says they have had no word from the TNPA regarding this application. Sparg said without Berth 204 or approval to operate a floating dock, Dormac is not able to economically sustain itself, given their very large commitment to their facilities (well-known as the Mossgas facilities). “Sadly this facility (which many of our clients describe as ‘world class’) is perfect for rig projects – a ‘one of a kind’ – but without a deep berth on Berth 204 or approval to operate a floating dock, the facilities will not be appropriate going forward. Dormac has thus had no choice but to terminate our existing lease.”
Local business chambers have expressed their shock and disappointment at the decision of Dormac to leave Saldanha. Morgan de Beer, chairman of the Saldanha Bay Black Business Economic Forum said “this is surely a huge blow for the local rig repair industry. It becomes crystal clear that Transnet does not really care about the community of the Saldanha Bay municipal area, only their revenue.
“Transnet has been in our backyard for more than 40 years, but our local community (businesses and job seekers) are struggling. It is very simple: if Transnet is serious about poverty alleviation and the local community, let them open berth 204 to address the latter.” Johan Vorster, chairman of the Weskus Sakekamer, said it is always a disappointment when companies withdraw from the area especially with regard to loss of skills, services and infrastructure. Dormac wil retain a small office with two personnel in Saldanha. Last year the company was granted permission to operate a floating dock in Walvis Bay where the port authority is going full out so that this port becomes the leading centre for ship repairs on the African west coast. TPT and TNPA were approached for comment on Tuesday, but none has been received.